Mon, Nov 27, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen dodges grandchild questions

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, center, smiles at the media while answering questions during an inspection of a logistics company in Taipei Harbor, a free trade zone in Bali, Taipei County, yesterday.

PHOTO: LIN CHIH-CHING, TAIPEI TIMES

Declining to comment on whether his son and daughter-in-law would return home to have their first baby, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said that seeing the stock market go up to 10,000 points in two years was no pipe dream.

"I hope the public pays more attention to the country's future and livelihood-related issues," he said. "Don't politicize everything. I believe it is not a dream that the stock market will go up to 10,000 points within two years."

When Chen was elected president in March 2000, the TAIEX soared to 8,700. It closed at 7,427 on Friday, up 42.67 points.

Chen made the remarks yesterday in response to a question about his son and daughter-in-law while inspecting the construction of a section of the east-west expressway connecting Bali (八里) and Xindian (新店).

The media asked him whether his son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and his wife, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), would return home to have their first baby. The president did not answer the question instead asking the media to focus on the economy.

Recent media reports have claimed that the couple was living an "extravagant lifestyle" in New York.

The couple issued a statement on Saturday dismissing the reports and urging the media to respect their privacy. They also dismissed claims that the real reason they were in New York City was to have their first baby born in the US, which would entitle the child to US citizenship.

Despite the president's pledge that the couple's first baby would be born in Taiwan, the couple has been staying in the US since returning there last month. The baby is due in January.

During yesterday's inspection trip, Chen expressed the hope that the expressway section between Bali and Wugu (五股) would be completed by 2008 as scheduled.

The 10.9km, NT$14.1 billion (US$440 million) section is the third priority segment of the 36.9km, NT$33.1 billion project connecting Bali and Sindian.

The first priority segment between Tahan Bridge and Showlang Bridge was opened to traffic on Feb. 1 last year. The continuation of the first priority segment between Tahan Bridge and Wugu Hsin Wu Road is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Completion of the second priority portion of the project is expected by the end of this year and that of the third priority section by March 2008.

Once completed, the expressway is expected to boost regional tourism and related industries in Bali, Wugu, Lujhou (蘆洲), Sinjhuang (新莊), Sanchung (三重), Banciao (板橋), Zhonghe (中和) and Xindian.

Meanwhile, Chen yesterday visited the free-trade zone at Taipei Harbor and expressed the hope that the area would help the local economy with its value-added products.

Taipei Harbor, located in Bali, is the country's fourth harbor designated as a free-trade zone after Keelung, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

The first phase of the harbor's free-trade zone became operational in September last year and the second phase is expected to be up and running by March 2008.

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