Mon, Jun 21, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Lu plan to move capital gets a denial

NO INTENTION Both the Cabinet and Presidential Office yesterday denied any plans to relocate the nation's capital from the capital to Kaohsiung City

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office and Cabinet yesterday utterly denied any intention of relocating the nation's capital from Taipei to Kaohsiung following a suggestion from Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

While Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chih-mai (陳其邁) said that the Cabinet does not have such a plan, the deputy office manager of the Presidential Office Chen Wen-tzong (陳文宗) said that Lu had never made the statement she was alleged to have made, saying it was the government's policy to relocate the nation's capital from Taipei to Kaohsiung.

"She merely pointed out that Taipei City does not necessarily have to remain the nation's capital forever, and proposed a very creative idea that the government could consider relocating the nation's capital from Taipei to Kaohsiung," Chen said.

Lu made the remarks during a luncheon with local tourism industry leaders in Kaohsiung on Saturday.

Responding to Lu's proposal, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Lin Chin-hsing (林進興), Trong Chai (蔡同榮) and Charles Chiang (江昭儀) yesterday pledged to push for a national referendum to be held to decide the matter.

In a press release jointly made public by their offices, the trio pledged to launch a petition in the legislature to seek endorsement from lawmakers across party lines to push for a national referendum on the issue. They also planned to broach the subject during the DPP's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, seeking the endorsement of their party.

Opposing the relocation idea, opposition lawmakers yesterday unleashed a tirade against Lu's proposal. KMT Spokeswoman Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) called on the DPP to stop fooling the southern electorate.

"It's to the people's detriment if the government fails to take cost-effectiveness into consideration during its policy-making process," Kuo said. She also called on the DPP to adopt a more pragmatic approach on this matter.

"If it is indeed the government's policy to relocate the nation's capital, we'd like to see its detailed plan and evaluation reports," she said.

Commenting on the DPP lawmakers' referendum proposal, Kuo said that the move would be meaningless because the DPP government is known for breaking its own promises.

"While the election-day referendum on arms procurement failed, it still forged on the arms procurement plan," Kuo said.

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT said that it was unnecessary for him to respond to Lu's remark since the outspoken vice president often voiced her "personal comments" on various things.

PFP Spokesman Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) questioned the necessity of the relocation plan.

"Is there anything wrong with keeping the nation's capital in Taipei, judging from the political, economical and military aspects?" Hwang asked. "If the move was aimed at narrowing the gap between the north and south, I believe there are other alternatives that could achieve that goal."

If the DPP government insisted on pushing for a referendum to decide the matter, Hwang said that the PFP respected the people's and lawmakers' right to initiate a referendum as long as the procedure met the requirement of the Referendum Law (公民投票法).

PFP lawmaker Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) argued that the move was targeted at the electorate in the south, most of whom were DPP supporters.

"All it has in mind is votes, votes, votes. Has the nation's overall interest ever crossed its mind?" Lee asked. "It's not an easy task and bound to cause a dent in the state coffers to relocate the nation's capital. Japan and South Korea are two perfect examples."

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