Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen proposes renaming Chiang Kai-shek airport

FACELIFT The president suggested changing the name to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which created a flutter of cautious responses from opposition parties

By Jimmy Chuang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chiang Kai-shek International Airport would have to change its logo if the airport were to officially change its name to ``Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport'' as suggested by President Chen Shui-bian.


The government wants to change the name of the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to "Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport," pending approval during next Wednesday's weekly Cabinet meeting.

"It is difficult to change the name, but it is definitely not impossible," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said.

The president announced the proposed name change at a ceremony at which soldiers received awards for outstanding service ahead of Soldier's Day tomorrow, although his remarks were not directly related to the military.

In addition to promoting the name change, Chen said that the four Kidd-class destroyers which the Navy bought from the US would be given names that are relevant to Taiwan.

"These destroyers should be named after cities in Taiwan," Chen said. "In the past, the navy named its vessels after historical heroes or cities in China."

"How can we bring the nation closer to the military if the new ships are named after something or somebody unrelated to us?" he said.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) backed the president's name-change proposal.

The premier said that "Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport" had been the original name for the airport when it was established 27 yeas ago, but the Cabinet later decided to change the name to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial International Airport in memory of the late dictator.

Su said that Taoyuan residents have for years been hoping to have the airport's name changed.

"I have discussed the issue with Taoyuan County Commissioner Chu Li-lun (朱立倫) and he agreed that it was a good idea," Su said.

The premier said that it was the government's job to introduce Taiwan to more foreign friends, and that the new name would clearly reflect its location and help promote Taiwan abroad.

"Most major airports in the world are named after cities, and this is what we are doing," Su said.

The opposition parties yesterday responded to the proposal with caution.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that CKS Airport was "indeed in Taoyuan, Taiwan," but declined to comment further.

"We don't know the detailed situation yet. ... The government has done too many things that we can't predict," he said at a municipal event in Taipei.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-Pyng (王金平) suggested that the government should conduct a cautious evaluation before implementing the name change.

He refused to comment on the move's possible impact.

The KMT legislative caucus expressed partial support for the proposal.

KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said that "Chiang Kai-shek" should be kept in the name while adding "Taiwan Taoyuan."

"We suggest using `Taiwan Taoyuan Chiang Kai-shek International Airport,' out of consideration for people's historical feelings," Tsai said.

But People First Party legislative caucus whip Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that changing the name was unlikely to be of much benefit.

"Changing the name won't do any good to reverse the drop in air traffic at the airport," Lee said.

Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said that the party supported the policy, as the new name would make it easier for the international community to recognize the location of the airport.

Taiwan Solidarity Union legislative caucus whip Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) also spoke in favor of the idea, calling it the most welcome move in Chen's six-year presidency.

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