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Five special municipalities to begin operation

2010/12/24 22:23

Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) Five special municipalities across Taiwanwith 60 percent of the country's population will begin operationsSaturday, kicking off a new phase in Taiwan's administrative history.

Taipei, Xinbei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung will beginoperating as mega cities almost one month after the residents of thefive municipalities chose their mayors in high profile elections onNov. 27.

In addition to Taipei City and Xinbei City, the former TaipeiCounty, the other three cities were expanded through a merger of twoadministrative districts.

Greater Taichung City is the result of a merger of Taichung Cityand Taichung County; Tainan a merger of Tainan City and TainanCounty; and Kaohsiung a merger of Kaohsiung City and KaohsiungCounty.

According to Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah, the change is aimedat making the five mega cities "spearheads of Taiwan's regionaldevelopment" and "cores of the three living areas of northern,central and southern Taiwan."

The new system is not likely to affect the everyday life of the13.7 million residents in the five cities, but integrating localgovernments and administrative branches are likely to present a bigchallenge in the cities where mergers took place.

Tainan and Kaohsiung both split their agencies into two parts tokeep them in their original office buildings while Taichung Cityopted for three office buildings in different parts of itsadministrative area.

Effective Saturday, townships and county-administered cities willalso be renamed "districts" and villages will be renamed "wards."District chiefs will be appointed by mayors rather than beingelected, as was previously the case.

Township councils will be disbanded, which means thousands oftownship and city councilmen have lost their jobs.

Newly elected mayors have focused on the financial aspects of thenew city governments. Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu publicly expressedconcerns that the city would be in financial trouble if budgetallocating procedures and tax regulations were not reformed.

Xinbei City faced a different problem -- trying to figure outwhat to call itself in English.

Mayor Eric Liluan Chu wanted to change the new city's name to"New Taipei City," because Xinbei means "new Taipei" in Chinese.

But the move was blocked by the Ministry of the Interior for now,with Deputy Interior Minister Chien Tai-lang saying the ministrywould discuss the proposal with Chu at a later date.

(By Chris Wang)enditem/ls