Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lu's comments on storm victims add fuel to critics' ire

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite criticism from all political parties and from residents of areas devastated by Tropical Storm Mindulle, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday defended her idea of moving storm victims from central Taiwan's mountain areas to Central America to give them a new start.

"I don't care about those criticisms. No matter which people attack me, I am only concerned about my responsibility to history," Lu said. "We must show more respect to heaven, earth and humankind; then we can succeed in avoiding more natural disasters in the future."

Lu reaffirmed her idea that the Cabinet should organize a "special administration" to manage and protect the country's mountain areas. She also said that "The government must have an advanced immigration policy, because Taiwan is so small while the population is increasing quickly."

Lu made her remarks yesterday while attending the opening of an Aboriginal exhibition hall in Taoyuan County.

She said her purpose is to encourage Taiwanese people to develop enterprises overseas to expand Taiwan's "territory," especially when two-thirds of the land in Taiwan's mountainous areas has been over-cultivated in past decades.

"Premier Yu Shyi-kun has told his Cabinet to proceed in offering post-disaster relief, but I would like to lead the public to think about our future," she said.

Lu also suggested that the Ministry of National Defense should enhance military training to cope with natural disasters.

Lu's remarks failed to ease criticisms, and one new comment -- her assertion that Aboriginal tribes were not the original inhabitants of Taiwan -- provoked further anger from Aboriginal communities.

"Is the purpose of the vice president to try to demolish history?" said Aboriginal Legislator Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯 貝林). "And is she prepared to be our enemy?"

Many Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators were worried that Lu may ruin the ruling party's chances in the legislative elections.

Senior Presidential Advisor Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏), who had opposed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) selection of Lu as his running mate in the March 20 presidential election, yesterday urged Lu to "demonstrate basic respect to authority" as a member of the government.

"I think that everybody is used to her inappropriate remarks, so is her new suggestion really so serious?" said Koo.

Koo said that after Chen won the election, "it is just like [Chen] is holding a bomb, when you don't know when it will go off."

"Under such difficult circumstances [as the storm], the government should do more than just talk, not to mention that the vice president's job is not to serve as a commentator," he said.

"However, just as it is impossible to stop the Tamsui River from flowing, one can not silence a vice president just by blocking up her mouth," Koo said. "She has to realize the duty of a vice president."

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