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Civil servants miffed by longer commute need a trip to reality

Civil servants definitely have the right to complain about their working conditions, but they should keep their complaints to themselves unless they are of public interest.

Government bodies moving to new offices may be an issue in the public domain; after all, citizens would have to rearrange their transportation means and schedules in order to get to the new government offices. They could complain if the new offices cannot be easily reached as the government, along with its civil servants, is meant to serve the nation.

Civil servants who have to move to new offices could also complain about inconvenience, but their position is less tenable — at least for those estimated 3,500 civil servants who will have to move from their Taipei offices to a new government complex housing 13 Cabinet bodies in Xinzhuang, New Taipei.

Their daily schedules may have to be changed and the location of the government complex may be a bit far from downtown. But the changes are unlikely to be too drastic. They may have to get up a bit earlier because of the extra commute time; their children may need extra hours of baby-sitting. These are inconveniences, but still manageable.

We are not asking them to move to faraway places. Some opposition leaders have been urging that the country's capital be moved to southern Taiwan in order to balance the development between different parts of the island.

Civil servants would have very legitimate reasons to complain if that happened, because many of them would have to move also. Thousands of civil servants, plus their families, would have to relocate. Such changes would also require a lot of other support in terms of infrastructure, education, medical facilities, transportation and so on.

The scale of the changes in the present case is much smaller. It has so far involved only the installation of new bus routes connecting the government complex with other points in Greater Taipei. The civil servants do not need to buy new homes in order to live near the new office, and no new hospitals should have to be built.

Perhaps the highest-level complaints have come from Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai, who reportedly wants to keep an office of her own in Taipei near the Cabinet and Legislature buildings after her ministry moves into the Xinzhuang building.

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