by Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: FTV/YouTube
THE KEELUNG MAYORAL policy presentation took place on November 17th. Though there were five candidates, this article will focus on Hsieh Kuo-liang, the KMT candidate, and Tsai Shih-ying, the DPP candidate, as the main viable candidates. For the policy presentation, each candidate was allocated fifteen minutes to state their platform, with no round for cross-examinations or questions from experts due to the number of candidates.
Hsieh began by thanking his supporters and stressing Keelung’s potential as a city. Hsieh stated that he was concerned about the number of disprivileged people in Keelung, however, as well as how many Keelung residents often have to travel to Taipei, Taoyuan, or elsewhere for work.
Consequently, Hsieh stated that he hoped to create new local employment opportunities in Keelung. Hsieh expressed concern about the traffic issues caused by the need to commute elsewhere for work.
As such, Hsieh proposed the establishment of a Keelung Science Park, along the lines of the Neihu Technology Park, or tech companies based out of Nangang, which would be located in Wudu. This would serve the purpose of creating employment opportunities.
As for Liudu, Hsieh also stated that the area needed to be developed, touting how Keelung was once a significant port for Taiwan. Hsieh stated that he would develop areas around the Qidu Train Station, to be used for maritime transportation, supply chains, or logistics. Efforts to build up Keelung’s role in transportation links in Taiwan would also extend to Badu.
Hsieh stated that national statistics showed lacking medical care compared to other places in Taiwan, with Keelung ranked last outside of the outlying islands of Taiwan. This was reflected in Keelung’s high rate of medium to severe COVID-19 cases. As a parent, Hsieh stated that the issue of Keelung’s medical care was important to him, as well as Keelung’s educational quality. Hsieh brought up the need for change when Keelung’s education was also rated among the worst in the country, causing children to need to commute to higher-ranked schools elsewhere.
Tsai Shih-ying, the DPP candidate, next criticized Hsieh’s statements as incorrect. Tsai stated there were already efforts to improve the employment outlook in the places that Hsieh brought up. Likewise, regarding Hsieh’s notion of establishing a technology park, he stated that science parks were built on public land, which was different from establishing technology parks on private land. Tsai commented that Hsieh was unaware of relevant policy, leading to this confusion regarding the process for establishing technology parks.
Tsai then moved towards criticizing Hsieh over financial impropriety, with Tsai having called for an investigation into loans by Hsieh in the course of the campaign. Tsai asserted that Hsieh has not clarified how much money he has overseas and links to properties. Tsai criticized Hsieh as attempting to pressure alumni groups into voting for him, violating laws regarding education and freedom of speech on campuses.
Given that the DPP currently governs Keelung under mayor Lin Yu-chang, Tsai touted the DPP’s accomplishments while stressing that efforts to improve transportation and develop historical and cultural sites, taking advantage of Keelung’s history, would continue. Tsai stated that promoting Keelung as a city located near the sea would continue to attract investment in Keelung. To this extent, Tsai stressed cooperation between Keelung, greater Taipei, and Taoyuan, in order to improve transportation, the sharing of financial burdens, and etc. Tsai stated that Lin’s mayorship showed the benefits of cooperation between the central and local governments under the DPP.
Notably, Tsai Shih-ying is the current legislator of Keelung, which has one seat representing it in the legislature. Tsai was preceded in office by Hsieh, though Hsieh did not run for reelection after 2014. While Keelung is traditionally thought of as pan-Blue territory, the DPP has had unexpected successes holding onto it under Lin Yu-chang.
It may not be surprising, then, that Tsai framed the policies he would enact as mayor as carrying on policies from Lin’s mayorship, and touted Keelung as already carrying out policies that would stimulate economic growth. On the other hand, he has concentrated fire on alleged corruption and lack of financial transparency by Hsieh Kuo-liang. It is not unusual for mayoral candidates to tout the establishment of science parks, perhaps leading to the construction of unnecessary and redundant science parks across Taiwan, yet it is still to be seen whom Keelung voters decide to vote for.