Fri, Aug 20, 2010 - Page 3 News List

President defends decision to allow controversial plan


President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the government’s decision to allow industrial production to continue at the Central Taiwan Science Park’s Houli (后里) site, despite a court order to suspend the development project.

Ma said the decision was based on the principle of “legitimate expectations,” which he described as the most important foundation of countries governed by the rule of law.

“We are abiding by the law rather than playing with words,” Ma said during the Seventh National Industrial Development Conference held in Taipei.

The Taipei High Administrative Court ruled last month that all development work at park sites in Taichung County’s Houli Township and Erlin (二林) in Changhua County must be stopped until environmental impact assessments were completed and approved.

The park administration agreed to stop work on infrastructure development, but opted against shutting down companies that had already started production or were in the process of building plants at the Houli site.

Pointing to the constitutional stipulation that “environmental and ecological protection must be given equal consideration with economic and technological development,” Ma said this means legitimate interests will be weighted against each other to determine which one should take precedence.

Ma said economic development and environmental protection are equally important to Taiwan, and there are ways for them to co-exist.

For example, he said, there has been a long-running fight between environmentalists and Hualien residents over whether to proceed with the Suhua Freeway project tabled a few years ago, after it failed an environmental impact assessment.

The dispute was later resolved following the development of an alternative project to build a new expressway, Ma said.

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