Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Hau says it's time to go


The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) head, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), yesterday reiterated his resolution to step down because of his differences with the rest of the Cabinet on the referendum issue.

Meanwhile, local residents opposing projects to build incinerators demand a referendum as a tool to halt what they call "inappropriate" development projects.

Hau yesterday morning inspected the EPA's Bureau of Environmental Inspection in Taichung as scheduled, encouraging staff to continue their work without his leadership.

Hau said the only reason for his resignation was the lack of common ground with the Cabinet on the referendum issue.

"It's regrettable to see my professional opinions have been misinterpreted," Hau said to his administration colleagues.

Hau said he had achieved much in the last two and half years, such as dealing with local opposition on issues such as incinerators, cleaning up rivers and limiting the use of plastic shopping bags and disposable cutlery.

"It's time to say good-bye," Hau said firmly.

Hau said he would not get involved in any political activity in the near future and did not intend to serve in the Cabinet after May 20 next year.

His decision received strong support from his father, former Premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村).

"It's quite normal for a government administrative official in a democratic country to resign if he shares no common point of view toward the implementation of policies," Hau Pei-tsun told the media camped outside his house.

Due to the resolution to protect the environment, EPA head Hau suggested last week that a public development project, of which the environmental impact assessment (EIA) had already been passed, should be exempted from the application of a proposed referendum law currently drafted by the Cabinet.

If not, Hau argued, the referendum would trigger a series of environmental catastrophes.

Hau's argument, however, has been criticized by environmentalists, who said existing assessment systems reflects corruption, and not professionalism.

Sam Lin (林聖崇) of the Ecology Conservation Alliance said EIA committee members did not conduct their evaluations carefully, as they only read information contained in EIA reports produced by advisory companies authorized by developers.

Sometimes, Lin said, they pass assessments without conducting any field inspections.

"So how can we believe Hau when he says that environmental protection could be ensured by the approval of EIAs?" Lin said.

Because of the lack of public participation in the EIA Act, environmental opposition became common in Taiwan after the law came into effect.

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