Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Ma talks jobs, roads at KMT’s Hualien tea party

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday his administration planned to create 100,000 jobs this year, with the goal of driving unemployment down to 4.9 percent.

“Our goal is to bring [the unemployment rate] down to 4.9 percent this year,” he said. “It’s not an easy task, but the electronics and high-tech sectors are beginning to make profits and the unemployment rate is gradually showing signs of recovery. We plan to create 100,000 job opportunities this year, as well as help new college graduates get jobs.”

Ma made the remarks in Hualien County as he attended a Lunar New Year tea party in his capacity as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman.

Ma said the goal of the country’s economic recovery plan was to aim for more employment opportunities, which required the participation of the public. The government would not serve only big businesses or the rich, he said, but let the entire public, especially medium and low-income families, benefit from economic rehabilitation.

Ma also visited Chiang Mei-hua (江美華), a supporter in Hualien who drew media attention when the Chinese-language United Daily News quoted her yesterday as saying she “did not have any feelings” for Ma following the KMT’s poor showing in local elections last month.

In the county commissioner and city mayor elections, the KMT clinched 12 of the 17 counties and cities, garnering 47.88 percent of the total votes, a drop of 2 percent from the 2005 elections. Although the Democratic Progressive Party secured only four areas, it received 45.32 percent of the total ballots, a 7.2 percent increase.

During the meeting with Chiang and a group of friends, Ma used a notebook to take notes.

Chiang told Ma she and her friends were faithful supporters of the KMT and him. She said, however, they were distressed that legal cases regarding former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had yet to be resolved, she said.

They told Ma to refrain from nominating outsiders to run in local elections as there are many outstanding individuals in Hualien and asked him to help resolve Hualien’s high unemployment problem, which they said drove young people away and left old people stuck at home. They also urged the government to resolve the long-standing difficulty of getting train tickets to Hualien.

Ma said strengthening the county’s tourism industry would help boost employment. He said he understood the ticket problem and would try to improve it.

During the tea party, Ma again pledged to improve the transportation system to Hualien, saying he hoped the construction of a “safe road home” — referring to proposed improvements to the Su-Hua Freeway — would begin this year.

He urged the KMT to unite and continue reform, saying that without it there is “no future” and “without unity, there is no power.”

“The problem of the KMT is not that it lacks power, but that it is not united enough,” he said. “Previous elections have taught us that we win if we are united and lose if we are divided.”

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