Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen promises Taiwan a brighter future in new year


Newly-appointed Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen and National Security Council Secretary-General Kang Ning-hsiang are sworn in during a ceremony at the Presidential Office yesterday.


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) reaffirmed his commitment yesterday to provide a better life for the people in the Year of the Goat.

Chen made the remarks at a New Year's gathering of Presidential Office staff on the first working day after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Saying that providing a better life for the people is the top goal of his administration for this year, as he promised in his Jan. 1 New Year's Day speech, Chen said he has confidence in realizing this mission.

Chen said he met with 20-plus top officials of ministries and government agencies to exchange views on major policy issues and the work agenda for the new year.

"The executive branch has a consensus on the direction we will take in the future," Chen said, adding that the government will prioritize economic development,

introduce comprehensive reforms, eradicate "black gold" politics and organized crime, accelerate educational reforms, promote tourism and attract investment.

Chen said he thinks that the international situation and relations across the Taiwan Strait will witness steady development.

"Of course, some uncertainties still lurk on both fronts. We are keeping close watch on developments and will cope with all possible changes with care and prudence," Chen said.

"Whatever changes or challenges there will be, we should not lose faith and confidence in our nation. With confidence and unity, we'll be able to overcome any difficulty and accomplish our goal," he added.

Noting that the start of a new year offers both new opportunities and new challenges, Chen said all members of the ruling team must work hard to boost national development and upgrade the nation's overall competitiveness in the global market.

With brisk exports in recent months, Chen said, the economy has gradually regained momentum. He said the government has also come up with a NT$50 billion project to expand public construction.

Once the project is approved by the Legislative Yuan, Chen said, the domestic demand will increase to help create new jobs and lower the jobless rate. The project is also expected to help stimulate private investment to further speed up domestic economic recovery, he added.

In contrast to Chen's upbeat mood, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) seemed to be more reserved about the prospects of the new year.

"The Year of the Goat may be eventful," Lu said at the party. "It will be full of challenges and turbulence. It may be a crunch time for either peace or war. It may be a time for a showdown between righteousness and evil."

Earlier, Chen presided over a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed Secretary-General to the President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and National Security Council Secretary-General Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥). Both men attended the New Year's gathering.

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