President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should offer a proper apology for misleading the public about the prices of locally grown fruits, as the price of persimmons continued to be the center of debate between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the DPP.
“The DPP incorrectly labeled bull-heart persimmons as non-astringent persimmons in its campaign flyer, but DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) only expressed regret over the mistake. Failing to apologize for its mistakes shows a lack of introspection on the part of the DPP,” Ma said at a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee in Putzu City, Chiayi County.
The debate over the price of the persimmons came after the DPP issued a campaign flyer in the form of calendar featuring seasonal fruits for each month in Taiwan and claiming that their prices had plunged under the Ma administration. It said that the price of non-astringent persimmons, for example, had plummeted to NT$2 (US$0.07) per jin (600g).
Ma’s administration and the KMT have dismissed the DPP’s claim, insisting that the persimmons were selling for about NT$41.50 per jin.
KMT legislative candidates in Chiayi, including Wong Chung-chun (翁重鈞) and Chen Yi-chen (陳以真), accused the Chiayi County Government, which is headed by a DPP official, of failing to cooperate with the Council of Agriculture’s directive that local governments purchase persimmons from farmers to help boost sales.
“The council discussed the purchase of persimmons with the county government in early November, but the county government ignored the instruction, causing selling prices to plunge,” Ma said.
He said the council would look into the situation and see whether the county government committed administrative negligence.
In response to Wong and Chen’s call for the central government to purchase second-rate bull-heart persimmons at a price of NT$5 per jin, Ma said the council would instruct the county government to purchase 240 tonnes of bull-heart persimmons at the proposed price.
The central government will offer the county government NT$1.2 million (US$39,500) to fully subsidize the purchase, he added.
Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, People First Party presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) weighed in on the war of words over the prices of persimmons, saying the country needed a second wave of agricultural reform.
The government must provide solutions for the processing and sale of agricultural products, Soong said.
He added that the government could help the agricultural industry by providing a comprehensive plan and strategy to protect farmers against exploitation by middlemen, offer them counseling on the processing of surplus agricultural produce and assisting them in tapping export markets.
Additional reporting by staff writer