Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Taichung Government Website

This month's edition of the Compass has a pointer to the local gov't English website, all about stuff local expats need to live and enjoy life in central Taiwan. In addition to resources about our fair city, the Compass features reviews of local bands, places to go by the score, and an interview with Taichung Mayor Hu (KMT) by longtime Taichung resident Doug Habecker, who used to have a Taichung column in one of the local English newspapers many years ago. Hu explained our crime problem here as a police problem -- we have 2,500 police officers for our 1 million residents, but Taipei has 8.000 for its 2.5 million. Hu also is thinking big on Taichung's future development (I strongly approve!), including rings of expressways around the city. Not for nothing do they call Taichung the California of Taiwan.........

After sifting through the magazine today, I'm going to have to revise my previously low opinion of things to do in Taichung. I figured a magazine on what to do in the Desert of the Real would be forced to close up shop after the first issue, but apparently the Compass is goin' strong. Looks great! Kudos to the Compass staff for their excellent work!

11 comments:

James said...

The numbers by itself don't explain shit.

Did Hu really say it that way? If he did, he's being deliberately misleading, either for people who never bother to make the numbers directly comparable, or increasing the cognitive load on those who do.

So if you scale it, if Taizhong were the size of Taibei, then it'd have 6,250 officers. Then if you think about how many officers are probably tied up around government buildings and other major property (eh... how about Taipei 101?) or helping out with guarding politicians/dignitaries, then is the remaining difference that large? Let's use a California reference the other way--do you think wealthy areas in the LA area are better patrolled than the slum areas? There's a lot of money sloshing around Taipei, and maybe there's a good reason for the additional officers.

I'd ask the following questions for a clearer picture of how much the difference in officers really makes:
1. What difference does population density make on policing a population? Is it easier to police 100 people living spread out in one square mile or 100 people in one apartment building?
2. What difference does property value make? Maybe thugs are simply priced out of Taibei. Follow up: what's crime like out in the counties of each--I'm guessing some biker gangs reside in the counties and just come to the city for "fun".
3. The real question to be asking is, what about all the other cities in Taiwan? How does their officer:resident ratio and crime rate compare and how do they correlate with multiple factors, such as wealth, population density, nearby incidents of crime, etc.? I'd grab a well-trained economist and have him run some regressions for a real answer.

Basically... a simplistic comparison of number of officers with one city (and the capital city at that!) says nothing. I don't doubt that Taibei gets special treatment, and some of it is probably unfair. And from Hu's standpoint, he probably wants people to believe the number of officers to be the problem, even if it isn't, because even if it's not the reason for the crime (maybe the police department sucks), more officers still might alleviate the crime problem. But there's no way that number by itself means anything.

Michael Turton said...

LOL. I was going to deconstruct Hu's comments similarly (the interview itself is one long campaign speech) but....yours is much better. LOL.

Michael

J.B. said...

I'm afraid I must disagree with your opinion of Compass. There is a complete lack of objectivity in their restaurant "reviews", for example, being more like press releases for the various establishments. You will never read a critical article on the challenges and problems facing Taichung. Instead, you get a monthly dose of almost sycophantic fluff pieces on the accomplishments of the Jason Hu administration, suggesting that Mr. Habecker is well connected with the Taichung political establishment. And their suggestions on places to visit and things to do bring to mind the old saying about making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Still, there's nothing else out there explaining what's going on in Taichung, and it is free. Compass serves a purpose. It's just that readers should take their recommendations and suggestions with the proverbial grain of salt.

Jonathan Benda said...

The crime problem in Taichung isn't really going to be solved until the organized crime problem is taken care of, and that won't be solved until... well, you can probably end that sentence better than I, Michael...

Anonymous said...

Someone should ask that local .gov ying wen website if they'd write some articles to help foreigners meet local women.

Michael Turton said...

ROFL.

Yes, I know it's a fawning interview. But it isn't really the Compass' job to be a hard-hitting political magazine.

Michael

j.b. said...

"...it isn't really the Compass' job to be a hard-hitting political magazine." No, it's not, that's true. But shouldn't it at least try to be objective in its recommendations and reports?

Karl said...

Compass does not have restaurant reviews, they have restaurant 'features'. They got burned a couple of years ago when they tried to do real reviews- their advertisers revolted en masse. Same thing happened to 24/7; They won't say anything bad about a restaurant or pub now either.

shavenpope said...

It's really too disingenious to point the finger at the central and cry that they won't give Taichung a budget for the police force it needs. Look at all the tow trucks that are sitting idle on the orders of city hall. There is simply no will to go out and enforce the laws of the land because doing so is unpopular with a large section of the population. What we have here is a unique form of social contract. The population prizes freedom to break/bend the law above it's own security. The police force is happy to oblige by basically doing as little law enforcement as is possible, ie just enough that you notice their presence. Until the attitude of the population and their willingness to take responsibility for the effective running of the city improves, I don't see that the current situation is going to change at all.

Karl said...

Well said, Shavenpope.

I've always wondered about the way the police patrol the city with their cop lights flashing. I see no advantage to leaving them running, and it seems that they are just warning miscreants that the police are approaching. Maybe it's an unspoken part of this weird contract: "You don't want us to arrest you, we don't want to arrest you, so we'll give you plenty of time to beat it when we're on the streets".

shavenpope said...

^^^ Karl, that's exactly my take on that phenomenon... a marketing excersize whose message is; See, there is a police presence in this city... but you're only seeing the side of the message that is presented to the criminal element. The message is also for the law-abiding; Sleep well, we are out here watching over you in return for your tax dollars.
Like much else in this country, it's merely window dressing.