Sat, Jul 10, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Yu, Lu under fire over response

DAMAGE CONTROL The premier was quick to offer cash to Miaoli County yesterday while the vice president received a ticking off -- including from within her own party

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Responding to allegations of government inefficiency by residents devastated by Tropical Storm Mindulle, Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday promised a special budget that would improve flood-prevention infrastructure.

"We will satisfy local government requests by providing NT$570 million to dredge the main rivers of Miaoli County," he said.

Yu also said that the government would find out whether officials should be held responsible for the failure of Miaoli's Liyutan reservoir to function adequately during the storm, which resulted in considerable damage and a four-day cut in the water supply in the center of the country.

"The Cabinet will rapidly punish any official who has acted negligently," Yu said, as he observed the efforts of military frogmen conducting urgent repairs on a damaged sluice gate.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs' Water Resources Agency said yesterday that the water supply will be fully operational from July 11.

Meanwhile, Taichung City councilors attacked Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) for alleged irregularities in the allocation of emergency water, saying that the mayor had priority use of water resources.

Hu denied yesterday that this was possible.

"I didn't even have a bath over those two days," he said.

However, he promised to investigate why his government did not use stored water provided for official use during emergencies.

Later yesterday, Yu promised the Taichung City government that the Cabinet would allocate more funding to dredge the Tali River over the next two years.

POLITICAL DAMAGE

Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday vowed that disaster relief would always primarily be the responsibility of government.

"This natural disaster is equivalent to an event that endangers the national security. Therefore post-disaster relief is a basic test of government capabilities," Chen said during an address at a joint military graduation ceremony yesterday.

Chen's comments were interpreted as correcting Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), whose recent comments triggered an angry response from people affected by the devastation.

Lu had said, "It should not be considered genuinely merciful to rescue people who over-cultivated the mountain areas of Central Taiwan and ruined the soil."

Lu had also suggested that storm victims and other residents of central Taiwan move to Central America to assist those countries with development.

Local politicians and residents condemned Lu for her remarks, suggesting that she relocate to Central America herself.

Some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators were also unhappy and were quoted as saying that Lu's suggestion was "lacking in humanity."

Lu's office yesterday defended the vice president, saying she had simply proposed that the nation's mountain resources be allowed time to recover.

"I suggest that the government establish a special administration for mountain-area protection and allow the island's mountain areas a period of time so that they can rest," Lu said.

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