Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Let the people determine their future, says Chen

SPEAKING OUT The president stated that the nation's sovereignty is undeniable, then criticized China and called for support for the WHO bid

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's future and cross-strait relations should be decided by the Taiwanese people because Taiwan is an independent and sovereign state, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

"The future of Taiwan is the future of the people. We must decide what kind of lifestyle we want rather than letting others make the decision for us," he said. "I've always believed in doing the right thing and taking the right road. As long as we are determined and adopt a practical approach to our goal, we will eventually win the support of the people and succeed in the long run."

Chen made the remarks in the latest edition of his weekly e-newsletter in response to a letter sent by one of his supporters.

The supporter, identified as Li Yen-i (李彥毅), wrote that he would become a father in September and offered his congratulations to the president, who is expecting his third grandson in September as well. He said he hoped that his child could live a happy life, free from threats posed by the outside world.

Chen responded by saying that although this was a simple wish, it was not easy to fulfill. However, he said, if the public realized they have the absolute right to choose their future, it would not feel like such a distant dream.

Chen said that as the man at the helm of the country, he called on the public to have faith in the country, the administration and himself, because "only faith could give the administration the courage and strength to forge ahead."

"We are in the same boat. If we work together, nobody can beat us or sell us out," he said. "If we work together, we'll be able to create more opportunities and miracles."

Meanwhile, in an event at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon, Chen criticized China's handling of epidemic-related emergencies.

Citing the death of a 26-year-old Chinese woman, the president lambasted China for its attempt to cover up human cases of avian flu, saying that this had sabotaged regional health and security as well as creating a "black hole" in the global health system.

"The Chinese government apparently did not learn its lesson from the SARS experience in 2003. They continue to cover up [infections] until the situation gets out of hand," he said.

China's "irresponsibility" and "refusal to face reality" posed a serious threat to the overall health of Chinese people and the international community, especially the health and security of Taiwan, he said.

Chen said that in the past 400 years, nine out of the world's 12 pandemics originated in China, including three in the 20th century.

At a separate event yesterday while receiving Willy Wimmer, a member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs for Germany's Grand Coalition, Chen appealed to Germany to help Taiwan in its bid to join the World Health Organization as an observer.

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