Thu, Feb 10, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Presidential red envelope attracts 30,000 faithful

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tens of thousands of eager visitors line up for a presidential red envelope in Kuantien Township's Hsichuang Village in Tainan County yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) red envelope handout caused a bit of a stir in Tainan County yesterday.

Chen returned to his family home in Kuantien Township yesterday as part of his Lunar New Year celebrations. He gave out 25,000 red envelopes containing NT$10 each.

Although the amount of money was negligible, Chen's red envelopes managed to attract a crowd of approximately 30,000, who waited patiently to receive what was considered an auspicious hongbao.

"I came down to Hsichuang Village 10 days ago to line up for a red envelope," said Lin Chien-yuan (林鍵源), 68, from Neihu in Taipei.

Lin was not the first to wait in line. However, as he traveled so far, those ahead of him in the queue offered him the chance to receive the first red envelope from Chen.

Lin managed to get Chen's autograph, shake hands and have their picture taken.

Chen's handout this year featured stringent security. Every person in line had to pass a security screening. The distance between the public and Chen at the head of the queue was increased by 50m.

The measures were taken out of concern for Chen's safety in light of the assassination attempt on him last year.

Before handing out the envelopes, Chen, first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) and Chen's mother, Chen Lee-shen (陳李慎), worshipped at a temple in the village.

Later in the day, a number of people from Tungshan Village in Tainan County attempted to approach Chen over their opposition to the construction of a waste-management facility in their village.

Their presence concerned security staff, who asked the residents to write a letter to Chen instead.

Residents of Hsichuang and an adjacent village received two red envelopes per person.

Some recipients were quick to auction their booty online.

At noon yesterday, the bidding price for one presidential red envelope had jumped to NT$1,000.

A complete set of presidential red envelopes from the past four years was going for NT$4,000.

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