Sat, Jul 05, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen promises to help Hualien

CAMPAIGN TRAIL The president vowed to spend money to develop the county, but critics charge that the pledge is really nothing more than a pre-election bribe

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER IN HUALIEN

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that the government has already drawn up a budget of nearly NT$160 billion to develop infrastructure in Hualien County, but he denied that he was making a campaign promise to boost support for the DPP in the upcoming by-election for county commissioner.

"Some politicians have described the Hualien County commissioner's by-election as a party-to?party battle that can be regarded as a preliminary skirmish in next year's presidential election," Chen said during an inspection tour here yesterday.

"However, I will say that those claims are nonsense and only underestimate the wisdom of all residents of Hualien," he said

The election, which is scheduled to be held in Aug. 2 "is the best opportunity to allow all residents of the county to choose a new leader with great vision and remarkable ability," Chen said.

Just two days after the DPP formally nominated You Ying-lung (游盈隆), deputy superintendent of the Ketagalan Institute, as the party's candidate in the commissioner's race, the Presidential Office immediately arranged an inspection tour of the area to allow Chen to deliver the government's financial promise.

Chen spoke highly of the late KMT commissioner, Chang Fu-hsing (張福興), and of his performance in the past one and a half years. Chen vowed that the central government would follow Chang's policy of promoting development in the county.

"Commissioner Chang made outstanding progress in realizing his major policy of developing tourism and the economy," Chen said, noting that the county government took in more than NT$ 2.2 billions from more than 750,000 tourists who have visited the area since the Lunar New Year holiday earlier this year.

"Now we should make an all-out effort to carry out Chang's ideals and accomplish his policies," Chen said.

"The central government under the DPP's rule has devoted itself to assisting the Hualien County government to develop its traffic network by spending NT$159.6 billion budget to improve the aviation, railroad, and highway systems," Chen said.

Chen also visited Liu Chao-eh (劉詔娥), the widow of Chang, and exchanged points of view about county affairs.

Liu told reporters after the closed-door meeting that they didn't talk about the election issue and that the issue of which candidate her family will support in the by-election remained undecided.

"There is no secret deal between the DPP and I," Liu stressed.

The KMT-PFP alliance yesterday charged that Chen's promises were just lies to cheat residents of the county.

"The DPP government has spent three years in office but has done nothing for Hualien," KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said. "And don't you think that it is too late to offer a new check right now?"

You Ying-lung however, fought back that the former KMT administrations, which failed to properly develop the county even after five decades in power, should be the last one to blame others.

"The DPP's strategy is not to play a so-called presidential card but just a "construction card," You said. "And most of those promises we made we are realizing step by step."

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