DPP’s Lin pledges not to run for mayor of merged Hsinchu municipality

Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (???) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced on Monday that he will not run for mayor of greater Hsinchu in 2022, following the likely re-designation of the area as a special municipality.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Lin said after days of careful thought, he decided not to run for mayor of the merged Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County next year, to stop political maneuvering by opposition parties and help accelerate the passing of an amendment to allow for the establishment of the new special municipality.

Lin expressed concern that the likelihood of him running for mayor of the new administrative area could hold up the re-designation process.

Lin also said he hoped his decision to not run, which he noted was approved by President Tsai Ing-wen (???) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (???), would force opposition parties to focus on the merger and support local people's desire to see a merged Hsinchu area upgraded to a special municipality.

"Although I will not run for mayor in 2022 of a greater Hsichu area, I'm still committed to pushing for the merger of the Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County," he said.

Lin has been mayor of Hsinchu since 2014, and his second term ends in December 2022.

Talks on the merger first surfaced in September, when Lin said it was important for the greater Hsinchu area to become a special municipality in order to speed up its development.

Opposition parties have been strongly critical that the merger would allow Lin to run for mayor of the planned new special municipality, and thereby promote the political interests of the DPP.

Lin's announcement came days after a Local Government Act amendment bill sponsored by the DPP's legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (???) was sent to committee stage after clearing its first legislative hurdle last Friday.

The amendment seeks to lower the bar on the establishment of special municipalities in Taiwan so that regions hoping to upgrade to special municipality status no longer have to meet the minimum population requirement.

Currently, only a region with a population of 1.25 million and above that has "special needs for political, economic, cultural, and metropolitan developments" can be re-designated a special municipality, according to Article 4 of the Local Government Act.

The bill is part of the DPP's efforts to merge Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County, a region that is home to the Hsinchu Science Park, where contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and many other hi-tech companies are headquartered.

As of November 2021, approximately 1.02 million people resided in the region, 452,665 in Hsinchu City and 575,131 in Hsinchu County, local government figures show.

Ker has argued that establishing special municipalities will help close the gap between urban and rural areas while boosting the country's competitiveness.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel