EDITORIAL: Don’t rush into more mergers
The government must focus on comprehensive plans for the use of national lands and the creation of special municipalities, instead of simply meeting the needs of special interest groups.
Over the past two days, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has attended groundbreaking ceremonies for nationwide technology facilities, including the Cybersecurity and Intelligent Technology R&D Building of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Tainan, a planned science park in Ciaotou district in Kaohsiung (橋頭) and a new building for software companies at Hsinchu science park.
Technology is Taiwan’s security guarantee, and the country’s high-tech research and development centers are expected to be spread from north to south, making Taiwan the world’s largest tech cluster, Tsai said on Friday.
Meanwhile, Tsai, who is also chairman of the Progressive Democratic Party (DPP), urged her party to support caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) plan to merge Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County into one. special municipality.
Members of opposition parties criticized Ker’s plan as serving his own political interests. Hsinchu mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅), who was Ker’s aide for nine years, is due to step down as mayor at the end of his second term in December next year, but the merger would allow to Lin to run for mayor of the new special municipality, opponents mentioned.
To achieve the merger, the DPP caucus said on Friday it would submit a draft amendment to the Local Government Act (地方 制度 法) for a second reading in the legislature. Under strong objection from opposition lawmakers, the project was to be examined by two legislative committees.
Ker said those who oppose the plan “are hindering the development of Hsinchu” and the success of Hsinchu’s semiconductor industry is tied to that of the nation.
Few Taiwanese could object to supporting the country’s tech industry, which has allowed Taiwan to shine amid global supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government should not use the technological industry as a pretext to extend its administrative power. Any attempt to change municipal divisions should take into account the allocation of funds and national land use.
There are also talks about the merger of Chiayi City, Chiayi County and Yunlin County, but the nation already has six special municipalities: Kaohsiung, New Taipei City, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei and Taoyuan. It is questionable whether more should be created if there is no compelling reason.
While the government seems motivated by an endless need for industrial expansion, there has not been enough discussion on balancing regional development and improving water and electricity supply for different sectors. When officials are excited to see more companies entering new science parks, few care about the fragmentation of farmland or how to improve the country’s food self-sufficiency.
The key to the stable development of the semiconductor industry is to ensure an adequate supply of water and electricity, rather than amalgamating Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County, wrote the former director of the administrative office of the Hsinchu Science Park, James Lee (李 界 木), in an editorial in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) published Thursday.
Creating a larger Hsinchu would not improve the science park’s water supply, but instead create more strain on the water demand of residents and other industries, he wrote.
Taiwan experienced its worst water shortage in 50 years last year, but the lessons of this crisis seem to have been lost to many.
To help the nation prosper in a sustainable manner, the government must put aside political considerations and present more careful plans for national and regional developments.
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