Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Political wrangling invades service for former KMT official

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday locked horns over the government policies set during the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) one-party rule.

"History teaches us that if we don't have any feeling for or identify with the land we live in, all the policies and measures mapped out by the government are bound to alienate the people, and we will pay a steep price for that," Chen said.

Taiwan's economic miracle may be attributed to the outstanding leadership of a few government officials, Chen said, but behind that success story there are also many civil servants who silently made their contributions.

Chen made the remarks during a memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of former vice premier and presidential advisor Hsu Ching-chong (徐慶鐘). Born on July 19, 1907, Hsu passed away on March 13, 1996.

He was the first Taiwanese to receive a doctoral degree in agriculture from Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University, the predecessor of National Taiwan University. He was also the first Taiwanese vice premier and first agriculture director of the now-downsized Taiwan Provincial Government.

Chen quoted Hsu as saying that he felt regret that his suggestions on flood control measures were neglected by the KMT administration.

"The KMT administration had insufficient knowledge about Taiwan's geology. Take the flood-control project in Sanchong (三重) and Sijhih (汐止), for example. While the areas are not suited to being developed, the government did exactly the opposite and unwisely over-developed the areas, spending huge amounts of money to build levees around them. I feel sorry that the administration turned a deaf ear to my suggestions," Hsu once said, according to Chen.

Soong, who spoke after Chen left the scene, dismissed Chen's remarks and said that the KMT should not be blamed for the flooding problems in Sangchung and Sijhih.

"The direction of the government policy was correct," he said. "Why do we blame a particular party and individual for making a mistake? This ceremony is an occasion for commemoration, not for laying blame."

Soong, who served as the head of the Government Information Office and secretary to then premier Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) during Hsu's vice premiership, said that his impression of Hsu was that he was a quiet person but an expert in agriculture.

Although Hsu was not a media darling, Soong said that he made a great contribution to the country.

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