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Wed, Nov 21, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Dec. 1 elections: Lien weighs in on debate over rice-wine issue

ON THE ATTACKThe KMT chairman said the rationing of the popular cooking ingredient was reminiscent of the colonial Japanese era and that the DPP should refocus its attention

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday attacked the government's rice-wine rationing measures as a move that "leads Taiwan backward to the time of Japanese colonial rule."

The KMT urged the DPP to focus on resolving the problems that plague daily life and to work harder on improving the economy, rather than devoting its time to what Chan called "campaign gimmicks," such as investigating KMT assets.

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), however, said the rationing measures were adopted because no better alternative was available. Chang said the government wants every family to have a fair chance to purchase the rice wine, in light of high demand for the product.

According to the measures announced by the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Board yesterday, households with two or fewer adults can only purchase three bottles and they are required to show their household list before they can buy the popular cooking wine.

The wine is a common ingredient in Chinese and Taiwanese cooking.

Households with more than three adults are allowed to buy six bottles. Families have to go to the board's stores to purchase their share of the wine.

The measures were imposed in response to rampant hoarding, triggered by an anticipated price hike for the product after Taiwan's accession into the WTO.

The DPP had often attacked the KMT for failing to resolve the rice-wine hoarding problem during the run-up to last year's presidential election. Yesterday, the KMT seized its chance to get even.

Lien said that the problem has not only not disappeared, but has actually worsened since the DPP took power.

"Back then, the DPP criticized me for not being able to handle the rice-wine matter properly. Despite the situation, people were buying rice wine with their own money," Lien said.

"Now people can't even get a bottle of rice wine with borrowed money. Isn't this more distressing than before?" Lien added.

Lien said rationing measures have not been imposed in Taiwan since the end of Japanese colonial rule, and now the DPP is leading the country backward.

"The DPP is not just taking a backward path, it's taking the old path of Japanese colonial rule," Lien said.

Lien said the rice wine issue is only a small fragment of the country's economic problems and that the DPP should not try to evade its due responsibility and distract public attention with campaign gimmicks.

"The DPP is always attacking others. This shows that the DPP has a guilty conscience and is very cowardly," he said.

The DPP government on Monday unveiled a plan to enact a special law that would empower the government to investigate the KMT's assets, a day after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) alleged that the KMT had obtained loans totaling at least NT$40 billion from the government using the prerogative enjoyed by the party when it was in power.

The KMT has called both acts mud-slinging tactics designed to thwart the party's legislative campaign. KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) yesterday criticized the DPP government as being "worse than a totalitarian communist regime."

Lin said the KMT has legal ownership of all of the assets currently under its control, and that the DPP has resorted to this tactic because it could not find any problem with the assets.

Lin said the party will return the assets to government coffers if they are determined to have been obtained unlawfully.

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