Mon, Sep 12, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chen deflects critics with baseball field

LOCAL DEVELOPMENT The central government cares deeply about how the local governments fare, the president said, and Yunlin County has the facility to prove it

BY CHIU YU-TZU  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) lauded the accomplishments of his government yesterday, pointing to a baseball field in Yunlin County as an example of his administrative prowess.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has paid serious attention to improving local development for years, and a good example was the completion of the baseball field in Yunlin County -- one of the poorest counties in Taiwan, Chen said.

Chen attended the opening ceremony of a new baseball field in Touliou (斗六), Yunlin County, saying that its completion was caused by a partnership between the DPP-led central government and the Yunlin County Government.

Chen said that around two years ago, he urged the central government to budget NT$1.2 billion for the establishment of sports facilities, including the baseball field, in the rural county.

"I clearly knew that in the last five decades there has never been any large-scale sports activity held in Yunlin County. This place especially needs the central government's support," Chen said.

FUNDING

The baseball field, which has 15,000 seats and is equipped with the latest in baseball technology, consumed at least NT$800 million in central government funds.

Chen's praise of the baseball field was meant to highlight the central government's efforts to improve local development, in the wake of recent criticism from some local government officials.

On Saturday, Chen attended a panel discussion in which Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) said that the president -- who grew up in the area -- did not especially look after the county's people.

In addition, some county councilors said that Chen only supported the establishment of an international airport in Taichung, but not in Chiku (七股), a coastal township in Tainan County.

Chen was reportedly irritated by the local political figures' criticism, and left the meeting saying simply that it was unnecessary to build an international airport in Tainan County, because there are already three in Taiwan.

Yesterday, Su explained to the media that local politicians respect the president, but that they hoped Chen could face up to reality more.

NOT WELL-INFORMED?

"Most people believe that an international airport in central Taiwan would turn out to be a failure. However, I don't think President Chen has been well informed about this matter," Su said yesterday.

Due to the year-end election for local commissioners, many local political figures have carried out activities trying to appeal to their constituents.

Su has highlighted the importance of building an international airport in Chiku for years, and has included the project in his election campaign pamphlet.

Responding to the controversy surrounding the international airport proposal, Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said yesterday that existing policies show no sign about the feasibility of the project.

"We will keep communicating with the local government about the issue," Cho said.

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