On November 29, 2014, Taipei citizens made an important decision － with the power of trust electing me, an independent candidate, as Mayor of Taipei. The new administration team and I appreciated citizens’ eagerness to see changes come true, therefore, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work immediately on the night of the election. In the past year, my first priority has been to build a new organizational culture － fully respecting my staff to develop their confidence in policy and project implementation. Taipei can be changed only through the collaboration between Taipei City Government staff and citizens. With a joint effort, it will become a healthy and happy livable city.
In 2015, the first year for the new Taipei City Government administration team, the toughest challenge was to balance “public opinion, professional judgment, and value.” It could never be as simple and perfect as chemistry formulas or identical equations. Therefore, I insisted on giving priority to public opinion when making policies; and always took matters of concern to citizens seriously, no matter how little and trivial they seemed. When making policies, Taipei City Government should not stop making improvements until people’s needs are totally fulfilled.
I believe in “open government and civic participation.” Collective wisdom is absolutely greater than individual opinions. To carry out this political ideal, policies have been formulated and projects have been implemented to provide citizens opportunities to discuss their concerns and participate in policymaking, including i-voting, Data.Taipei (open data platform), participatory budgeting, Citizen Café, and Summer Camp Program. Additionally, a lot of information pertinent to daily life is available to the public through projects like budget visualization, real-time open data on disaster, safety map (crime mapping), Food tracer Taipei, etc. Open data significantly increases municipal transparency and channels in community power. It is the best example of the public-private partnership.
To further improve the transparency of municipal operation, the Clean Government Committee, the Citizen Participation Advisory Council and the Food Safety Committee were established to encourage the participation of enthusiastic citizens, professionals, and civil groups. Particularly noteworthy is the Citizen Participation Advisory Council. It is the first organization of its kind established in the nation that allows citizens to participate in government operations. The powder explosion at the Formosa Fun Coast, TransAsia plane crash, and Typhoon Soudelor in 2015 are sad lessons learned. They showed me the importance of resource integration among different departments, and prompted me to think about how to improve the response to such unfortunate incidents and if possible, avoid them. In order to answer people’s requests more efficiently in the future, Taipei City Government will re-examine all relevant policies and procedures, and make efforts to fortify and expand collaboration with private organizations. In addition, information on disaster relief is available for external agencies’ use to speed up rescue operations.
In response to the repeated road excavation that citizens resent the most, we established the Taipei Road & Pipeline Information Center. It engages the city government’s resources to integrate information about pipeline laying by government and private companies. It also collects real time construction information through an intelligent management platform. From public participation to collaborative governance, the new administration demonstrates what the new value can achieve.
I also notice Taipei is projected to become an aged society as senior citizens will make up 14% of the population in 2018. As senior citizens will soon outnumber the young, it is urgent to develop policies facilitating “active aging” and “aging in place.” The primary goal of city governance is to create a stable society in which people “live a life of contentment,” and “the old are provided for till their death, and the young can develop” My staff and I strive to build a friendly city for young people to get married in, raise children in, and live in with ease and confidence.
Living justice is another issue that demands extra attention. I hope all young people will at least be able to live in quality places, even if not all of them can buy a house. To reach the goal, city staff have been making a concerted effort to build public housing and accelerate government-led urban renewal. With regard to a well-rounded social support system, the city government has strengthened child care assistance for parents by offering childcare allowance, daycare subsidy, public nanny services, etc. In addition, we have also improved the functions of community senior center, and implemented programs such as “the outreach services for the disabled elderly,” “adult day care center,” etc. Taipei City Government invested resources to take care of people’s need extensively from raising children to “caring for the elderly, with the aim of making “aging in place” happen in Taipei and enabling the elderly to enjoy life.
Not only will we “do things right,” but we will also “do the right things.” Self-reflection and improvement are key elements of organizational culture. In order to ensure constant improvement and progress, it is necessary to review and evaluate policies often. Even for SOPs, while the core value never changes, they do not always stay the same. Taipei City Government follows SOPs to review policies frequently and modify them based on the review results. With such endeavors, I earnestly hope we can come closer to citizens’ expectations.
In the past year, our short-term objectives were to improve the organizational culture of Taipei City Government, enhance administrative efficiency, and solve the problems from the past. For mid-term objectives, we set out Taipei 2050 Vision Project and established a project management office to take charge of all related matters. The office has developed several projects, including East and West District Gateway Project, Regeneration Plan for Datong and Wanhua Districts, Shezidao Development Project, Regeneration and Relocation Plan for Songshan Airport. I trust bottom-up-initiated discussion will take Taipei forward and hope to see Taipei’s progress when reviewing the performance of 2016.
The change we are making today is the future of the next generation. All the efforts we devote in the coming year are for citizens to feel Taipei’s progress every day. What we accomplish in this four-year term will shape Taipei’s next 50 years.