Dear Friends,
Let Us Smile and Head Towards Hope!

2008 was a year full of uncertainty and changes.

Hit by the financial tsunami, the world economy burst like a bubble. It resulted in an unemployment and economic downturn. As a key international business and commercial city, Taipei has been significantly impacted by the global economic slowdown. Friends who have been affected started to feel the pressure and get a little bit melancholy, a condition which even spread to their children. Despite the sluggish economy and gloomy prospects, we would like to keep the faith and wait for the spring to come after a difficult winter as we look forward to 2009.

Even though the macro-environment is not promising, smiling remains a common language for the people of Taipei, whose contentment and friendliness are reflected on their welcoming expressions and gentle body movements. These qualities are what make Taipei a city full of warmth and happiness. Through the dedicated efforts of the Taipei City Government, the quality of life has gradually improved.Now living in Taipei has become a pleasure.

We have a 107km-long bicycle path of the best quality throughout Taiwan. Moreover, Taipei is proud to have been the home of the world's best mass rapid transportation system for four consecutive years according to an international review. In addition, Taipei is also the first city in Taiwan to use non-step buses so as to facilitate users of all ages to get on and off buses easily. The Elite Book Store, which is open for 24 hours, is another feature of convenience in Taipei. This city has been reviewed and chosen as the happiest city in Taiwan for five years in a row.

The Taipei Neihu Technology Park has an annual output of NT$2.07 trillion. In the near future, a planned expansion of the area of the park will be realized. Apart from this, the application of wireless broadband technology has lead to our becoming one of the intelligent cities in the world. Waste reduction and resource recycling have made Taipei one of the model cities of the world. These two excellent achievements have made it possible for Taipei to enter upon the international stage by organizing the“2010 World Exposition.”

The“1999 Citizen Hotline”is our latest effort. Certain doubts have been put forward about the need for all the extra efforts required to set up such a system since Taipei is already ranked the best in Taiwan in terms of its administration and household registration services.This is because we would like to provide immediate solutions whenever members of the public encounter any problems. Suppose your front gate is blocked by a car that is illegally parked. Wouldn't you like to have the problem resolved immediately? Moreover, if the street lights are not functioning and if there are bothersome noises, wouldn't you like to have such matters handled as quickly as possible? This is why the“1999 Citizen Hotline”has been set up. Our hotline provides a one-stop service to handle nearly 99% of incoming calls. The multiple increase of the call volume has allowed officials to come face to face with members of the public who have certain issues with respect to the city. This direct pressure from the public is sure to drive the City Government to pursue excellence.

When the plan for revitalizing the Danshui River was first proposed, quite a few people ridiculed this idea since the river was so polluted that no one believed it would have been possible to revitalize it. However, after two years of efforts, the water quality of the river has been greatly improved. It is reported that in the upper stream of the river specimens of the monk fish have appeared, a species which had disappeared for thirty years. On the weekends, hundreds and thousands of people go bicycling along the riverbanks to enjoy all sorts of riverside activities. Taipei is where a growing momentum is gathering to drive those who have dreams to be realized.

Even so, there is much more beauty and greatness of this city beyond what has been described above.

Taipei is open to all kinds of cultures, races, and opinions so that creativity can be nurtured and applied freely. This city has one of the most distinctive Asian cultures in the world. Its friendliness and warmth appeal to foreign visitors. Though Taipei has neither the most beautiful scenery nor the most magnificent public constructions, it is a city full of vitality and its people are filled with hope.

The slack global economy may place a greater burden on quite a few people; however,keep smiling and you will find your own strength to get through these difficult times. In Taipei,the city of hope, if you are brave enough to meet challenges, you will definitely find your own opportunities for success. The Taipei City Government is ready to support you and become your most reliable assistant.

So, my dear friends, in spite of all the troubles and difficulties, let us keep on smiling.

Let us communicate with smiles and move along with hope. Taipei will become an even greater city because of you.

Lung-bin Hau, Ph.D.
May 2009

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