Mon, Mar 08, 2004 - Page 2 News List

A sustainable future is crucial

LIVELIHOOD THREATENED Environmental groups say politicians should focus more on the environment and address issues that could lead to suffering for Taiwan's people

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

"But it is be hard to say that the situation will remain the same if reformers take the advice to revise their ways of doing things," Chen said.

Disappointing

After the DPP's victory in 2000, many environmentalists with close relationships with the party took positions in the government or became consultants to governmental officials on environmental protection. However, their performance seems to have disappointed independent activists.

Eric Liou (劉銘龍), secretary-general of the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation, argues that social pressure groups should remain independent in order to maintain their credibility.

"Those who care about whether their actions are politically correct will be eventually questioned about their stance," Liou said.

The degradation of certain groups led to the scenario that environmental issues had not achieved a broader electoral appeal in Taiwan, Liou said. In addition, most political figures believe that environmental issues are irrelevant to the main electoral concern -- salvaging Taiwan's economy.

"Since most criticisms of the ruling party's sustainable development strategies have been weakened, why do opposition parties have to raise related issues to extend the battle line?" Liou said.

However, activists from some persistent non-governmental organizations believe that attacking the unsound planning of policies inside the government is one of the more efficient ways to deal with their issues.

"Through this channel, we activists still watch over the government carefully," said chairwoman of the Homemakers' Union and Foundation, Mary Chen (陳曼麗). She is also one of the NGO representatives at the Executive Yuan's National Council for Sustainable Development.

In addition, senior members of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union were also invited to offer their advice through serving as consultants to many governmental agencies. But most of them encountered conservative forces among civil servants, who are habitually in favor of old-fashioned ideas.

On March 1, Mary Chen and other anti-nuclear activists of the newly formed No Nukes Taiwan Union released an analysis of both camp's answers to a questionnaire about energy policies.

The result showed that the DPP is more in tune with global nuclear power trends than the KMT, which scorns renewable energy sources. However, Mary Chen said that activists are still worried about the DPP's answers because the party has turned around on some of its promises, such as the promise to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

At forums held last week by activists from diverse environmental community-based groups, a common view was that both camps in the presidential election only casually mentioned issues pertaining to sustainable development.

Last week, the Society of Wilderness (SOW), Taiwan's largest NGO with about 8,000 members, urged both camps to produce an environmental white paper by March 10. These are necessary as a frame of reference for voters concerned about the environment. On March 10, activists from several environmental groups will examine both political groupings' environmental white papers.

"In addition to the cross-strait dispute and economic issues, voters still have another angle which could decide their voting," SOW secretary-general Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) said.

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