Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 23:31

Blood river train

When time works against us
and weighs at the heart
somewhere in a foreign land,
night turns to day, and
the fashion in shop windows
I pass on my way from work
in Paris, London or New York
where I live into djellabas, the smell
of restaurants into kuskus
on market day,
hands out, stretched
to accept this gift of walking
in the shadow of African people,
with their fear of anchored boats
on coastal fronts. History
is in the present. On
a young night that is day
I go inland where spear fights musket,
and I join the battle on the river
that filled with blood, our phagocyte
impi sieging their laager in anger.
On the metro of the morning,
Le Monde in my hands and
work on my mind, there’s always
a part of Africa that yearns
for me, for my presence, my flesh,
beyond the clatter of the train
needling beneath the capital
into the reconciliation of our time,
before the evening of my days.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009 21:14

Taipei County and Governance

Taipei County controls ten county-controlled cities (縣轄市), four urban townships (鎮), and fifteen rural townships (鄉). The sub-county entities consists of 1,017 villages (里), which in turn are divided into 21,683 neighborhoods (鄰).

Defining Taipei County
A county-controlled city is one of the 32 cities in Taiwan. Like the county-controlled cities, townships are the administrative subdivisions of Taiwan. Taiwanese townships can be further classified into urban townships (鎮) and rural townships (鄉). Local laws do not enforce strict standards for classifying urban and rural townships; the decision was mainly made by the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation and followed by the Kuomintang government after 1945. Generally an urban township has a larger population and more business and industry than a rural township, but not to the extent of a County-controlled city.
Taipei County is approved to be administered directly under the Executive Yuan (literally the Executive Court) of Taiwan, R.O.C.

Governance

Taipei County itself is governed by the Taipei County Government of which the current magistrate is Chou Hshi-Wei. Second to the magistrate is the deputy magistrate, followed by the chief secretary and the equally-ranked Secretary and Senior Executive Officer.

The Secretary maintains the Internal Unit which comprises of: the Transportation Bureau, Civil Affairs Bureau, Indigenous Peoples Bureau, Finance Bureau, Water Resources and Sewage Bureau, Economic Affairs Bureau, Secretariat, Educational Bureau, Information Office, Public Works Bureau, Legal Affairs Office, Agriculture Bureau, Research, Development and Evaluation Office, Housing, Urban and Rural Development Bureau, Personnel Office, Social Affairs Bureau, Budget, Accounting and Statistics Office, Land Administration Bureau, Civil Service ethics Office, and the Labor Affairs Bureau.
Under the Senior Executive Officer: the Police Bureau, Public Health Bureau, Environmental Protection Bureau, Revenue Service Office, Cultural Affairs Bureau, and the Fire bureau.
The Taipei County Government engages in all social aspects of Taipei County. It provides the infrastructure for housing, employment, education, transportation, wealth, health, and taxes within the region.
The Budget expenditures of all districts in the Taipei county was calculated in January 2007 to be 22 883 249 (NT1000).

Brief Overview of Education

The educational responsibilities of Taipei County exist from pre-school to tertiary education, including those with a need for special education.
They manage and counsel registered public and private kindergartens; inspect unregistered kindergartens and carry out kindergarten counseling projects and host related early childhood educational workshops and activities. Subsidies are implemented for preschool education and promote early intervention and inclusion education.
In elementary school education, Taipei County attempts to advance language education, technology education, creativity education and science education; promoting local education to develop local, sustainable and cultivated learning surroundings. Education subsidies are available for low-income families, and a “No Child Left Behind” policy was established to provide the equity of educational opportunity.
The recruitment and selection of teachers, directors and principals are dealt with affairs related to educational personnel.
In addition, Taipei County manages construction projects in senior, vocational and junior high schools.
Service is also offered in exam centers for the Basic Competence Test in Taipei County and Joint College Entrance Exam. There is also a plan for setting up new schools.
The Taipei County provides all children equal access to pre-school facilities; it has begun instituting a system, from 1998 to 2001, of using spare schoolrooms elementary and junior high schools to provide 300 new pre-schools.
The Taipei County government is also establishing community colleges for women, retired persons, and industrial/economic colleges.
Renovations are implemented on small-scaled schools, including projects of revitalizing idled buildings and construction of new buildings.
The annual budget of Taipei County on education in 2005 was 29 503 millions.
Economical development
In a message from the governor Chou, he introduces Taipei County as one the largest industrial and commercial regions in Taiwan. An area of much investment and economic potential, the county government intends to encourage even more investments by providing tax-free lease, tax breaks, low-interest loans and research guidance and assistance. Other incentives include the availability of 6688 residence, a scheme for industrial Advancement, small-business loan plan, research supports, and lease benefits. Moreover, an ‘Economical Development Consultant Commission’ was set up to push for economic development and to create a development environment for industry and commerce in Taipei County. Five teams are established with its own functions: Industry Development Team, City Development Team, Traffic Development Team, Tourism and Culture team, and Construction and Planning Team.
Since year 2003, annual investment grew from a rate of 2.84 to 3.29 (2007), but there has been a clear drop in investments since 2004 where load and investment was growing at a rate of 8.64.
In 1991, a book by Saskia Sassen, The Global City, signaled the coming of age of metropolis as key actors of the globalization process. Information technologies, intimately linked to the globalization process, were producing a phenomenon of “metropolization”, i.e. an accrued concentration of services and decision centers in giant cities that form together a “global network.” London, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai… Such metropolises are indeed the places where the future takes shape – they are also those that provoked and nurtured the current financial crisis…

Nowadays, more than half of the world population lives in cities, and a growing number lives in very big ones. The ills that come with it are well known: slums are growing, the countryside sees its vitality depleted; the accumulation of powers in metropolises erodes the power of nation-states and international organizations; the fierce competition between giant cities may generate useless investments; and finally, even in democratic countries, local governments (especially the ones managing metropolitan cities) are not always fully accountable.

At the same time, global cities can be agents of sustainable development, and thus lessen or even reverse the social ills they are creating, if they become at the same time compact cities. Compact cities are the ones that invest in state-to-the-art public transportation systems, water sanitation and green housing projects. Compact cities are also places where the integration of populations from different background is fostered through educational, social and cultural policies. Finally, compact cities design developmental strategies with an integral and humanist outlook. Amsterdam and a few other cities are tentative model to this approach.

Besides, global cities show a propensity to learn from each other. “Good practices”(lease of bikes, green building techniques, patrimony conservation) are observed and reduplicated from one metropolis to another. The networking between cities can thus become a positive aspect of global governance. This will also mean that cities will progressively enlarge their outlook, paying more attention to the impact of their policies on their fragile hinterland.
If metropolises become at the same time “global’ and “compact”, there is a chance that urban development will be sustainable indeed. The fact is that giant cities have already become driving forces of globalization. The challenge remains to assess and to shape the model of globalization that they will eventually impose on all of us.

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