By: Tracy Chien
TAIPEI: President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday attended the opening ceremony of the fifth United City and Local Government Asian-Pacific Congress (ASPAC), hosted this year in Taipei from Sept. 3 to Sept. 8.
The UCLG’s Asian-pacific branch is reportedly the largest with approximately 1000 city governments listed as members. The UCLG this year aims to exchange ideas and policies of different cities from around the globe and to inspire innovative solutions on various issues to attending mayors, deputy mayors, delegates and representatives of participating cities.
During the ceremony, Ma mentioned that he himself attended the congress when he was mayor of Taipei City ten years ago, and now he is glad to see that Taipei City has gotten better at resolving transportation and environmental issues. Ma also explained the various ways in which the EasyCard can be used to delegates, and promoted that the card can soon be used in foreign cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
The central theme of the 2014 Taipei UCLG ASPAC Congress is “An Adaptive City: Embedding Design in City Governance.” This year’s host, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, invited mayors, deputy mayors, delegates, representatives and speakers from 11 cities to exchange ideas.
Participating cities this year include New Taipei City; Taichung City; Changhua City; Adelaide, Australia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Hamamatsu, Japan, Stirling, Scotland; Luxemburg City; San Salvador, El Salvador; Waterloo, Canada; and Mbabane, Swaziland to share their expertise on city governance and innovation.
Local Mayors Share Innovative Ideas
Following Ma’s opening speech, the congress officially launched with a round-table in which mayors and representing authorities made brief introductions of recent innovations in their respective cities.
Hau shared his experiences in promoting Taipei City as a World Design City, emphasizing that cities should embrace the idea of design in all aspects of city life. With design in mind, Taipei City will become a more adaptive city with property repossession policies like transforming an old tobacco factory into a public art space with several warehouses renovated for exhibitions and cultural events.
New Taipei City mayor Eric Liluan Chu also shared his programs catering to seniors conducted in New Taipei City. Not only do the programs encourage senior citizens to have meals together, they also establish entertainment centers for the elderly to engage in group activities such as folk dancing.
During his speech, Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu threw in several jokes to relieve the otherwise serious atmosphere. Hu introduced Taichung City as the city of creativity and architectural arts. Later, Hu humorously asked Hau to buy a cup of bubble tea for everyone attending, so as to demonstrate the creativity of the drink’s origin city—Taichung.