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Eric Chu coy on Taipei Mayor aspirations
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-09 01:55 PM
On Sunday New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu brushed off questions about the possibility he might become involved in the election for mayor of Taipei City launching into a story about proposals that the cities of Taipei and New Taipei be merged into a “Double Taipei” City. Chu said he believes Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin may be of the same opinion as he is regarding the wisdom of such a merger.

Chu said that a merger between New Taipei City and Taipei could be a good idea in the future, but stressed that he was not trying to emulate Toru Hashimoto, the Japanese politician who jumped from being Governor of Osaka Prefecture to Mayor of Osaka City. "For now,” Chu said, “we must what we can for New Taipei City, and I thing that will also be best for a possible merger between the two cities."

Chu said that a double-Taipei merger is a proposition ten years or so in the making, adding that he has long advocated such a merger and believes Mayor Hau echoes his opinion.

Chu added that people in both the ruling and opposition camps have been babbling about the elections for the past 5 or 6 months and will probably spend the next 7 or 8 months doing the same. He said it is still too early to talk about next year’s election, much less about the 2016 presidential election. He said such a situation is not good for Taiwan and surmised there was not another country in the world where you could find things like this going on.

Taipei City spokesman Chang Chi-chiang said Sunday that Hau Lung-bin made his position clear seven years ago when he was contesting the Taipei mayoral election. At that time Hau said talk of a merger between the ‘two Taipeis” must also include discussions about Keelung as well. Hau said residents of the three cities share many common areas of life as far as living arrangements, employment and education are concerned. He said the three cities are already virtually inseparable but emphasized that there is no timetable for a merger and it must be handled properly.

The Ministry of the Interior held a public hearing on the issue of a merger of the three cities in March this year, but since that time there have been no follow-up discussions.

Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong also cautions that discussions about a merger must also include Keelung. Chang says that in his view, Keelung cannot be incorporated into New Taipei City or Taipei City and a merger of the three cities is the only option that should be considered.

Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai expressed his agreement, saying consolidation of the three cities is inevitable. He warned, however, that while there are areas where the Central Government and local governments are on the same page, so far "everyone is just shouting back and forth," and the Central Government should put together proposals with specific content so that all parties will understand what is happening.

Chen Hsing-chin, the KMT City Council Speaker in New Taipei City, notes that proposals to merge the cities of Tainan and Taichung with their respective counties are still in the discussion stage. He said there are obvious problems in carrying out such moves, adding that talk of a merger of the two Taipeis and Keelung is still very premature. He also expressed doubt that Eric Chu would be interested in running for Taipei Mayor.

Shen Fa-hui, the DPP General Convener for the New Taipei City Council, says he believes public opinion on a merger of the three northern cities is still undecided and it would be hard to reach any kind of consensus on the issue right now. He emphasized that such a merger requires extensive planning and research and it is essential to include input from people in all three areas.

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