Back To The Fundamentals

The recent ridiculous acts of the Taipei City government really got me thinking…just what is the cause that make  to the whole organization falling apart.  Supposedly the government has all the financial and human resource support, so how did they become like this…an organization without common sense and judging by the evidences, arrogant and rotten to the core? 

Sure, Taipei City used to and still have a lot of problems, from traffic jam problems, air pollution problems to major construction problems…etc.  However, the city, despite its many problems, also improve somewhat overtime.  This could be contributed by because the city is really rich, even if 50% of money goes to waste, slow progress has also been made.  Plus, during ex-President Chen’s time as mayor, major improvements has been made.  Although, one really has to wonder, if Taipei City government can tighten its waste, and maybe just waste …say 10% instead of 50%, the whole Taiwan could benefit greatly…seriously.  A lot of local government has really limited budget, and improvement is moving in senile pace.  If you go around Taiwan for a bit, you will see stuffs that is done (whether well done or poorly done), but could have been done a lot better if they just have a little bit more money and resources.  That is why I tend to like the idea of dividing Taiwan into six or seven major pieces with each piece receiving budgets that make more sense.  Each area can then develop depending on their unique characteristics.  That is also why I like ex-Presidential candidate Hsie’s Six Star Plan.  Although I don’t know the details and how to divide the area and how to overcome some of the potential problems it could encounter, I think that is a step in the right direction.  Instead of wasting and dumping most of the resources into one small area in Taipei City, put the resources in places where they are really needed. 

However, that is really off topic a bit.  Right now, the problem is not just about Taipei City wasting money…it’s about Taipei City wasting huge amount of money on simple and useless things.  For example, Maokong…is that thing really necessary?  What’s the benefit?  Repeating paving the same road over and over again to make it flat, while leaving other roads extremely uneven…is that necessary?  Spending major money to build a swimming pool (6 tracks) for Deafolympics that does not fit with international swimming competition standard (8 tracks).  Is that necessary?  Build a glasses cylinder in place of a traditional night market that eventually drove all the stores away.  Is that necessary?  And finally, spending MILLIONS on a simple FLOWER EXIBITION (and with major budget put into advertisement and commercial)…is that necessary…or just plain STUPID? 

Many who lived outside Taipei City already point out the more evident problem of Taipei City: the way their citizens choose their mayor for the past decades.  I don’t want to go into great detail into this, because most people know it already.  Let’s just say they did not pick carefully.

However, other than that, what is causing city officials to become so incompetent, even after people point out again and again the mistakes they have made…and in my mind, they are actually getting worse and worse?  I think one of the problem is actually that the whole strategic direction is WRONG ever since Ma took over.  During Ma’s time, the city government seems to fixade on two things: Ma’s image making and short-term constructions.  After Ma’s 8 years, KMT’s Hao took over and continue this trend.  These fixation…IMO, are there for election purpose.  Politicians, ideally, would like to contribute in ways so they could be remembered well at least by some.  Ma, however, seems to fixate on winning 2008 presidential election after the 8 years as Taipei City Mayor.  Therefore, his team rushes on planning short-term projects and PR that could give Ma a short-term image boost and shade the image that “Ma is incompetent.”  They seem to forget that competency does not mean completing lots of projects, but careful planning with good foresight and budgeting that could really elevate citizens’ lives with efficiency.

This change in direction seems to become a major flaw and creates countless problems after 8 years.  Major waste of resources on illed planned projects are everywhere in Taipei City.  Sure, the city itself is still vibrant, but many problems are sufacing…some problems even created by Ma and Hao themselves.

So what’s the cure?  I think it’s “returning to the fundamentals.”  What are the fundamentals?  I don’t know, probably initiating projects based on a well thought out overall 10 years city plan and strategy, not just short-term random projects.  Focusing on providing its citizens more convenience in housing and traffic.  Focusing on the image of the city instead of image of the mayor.  Focusing on using the budget efficiently instead of going into major deficit.  I am no experts, but I think KMT’s Taipei City has forgotten the fundamentals of city governing that is why they do things that defy all common senses.  (Taichung City is not far behind, but other than crimes,  not a lot of media coverage).

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