Sat, Oct 29, 2011 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Milkfish orders would not sway voters, poll finds

Staff Writer, with CNA

A recent survey commissioned by the Chinese-language Business Weekly concluded that China’s “silver bullet” offensive would not change the voting behavior of residents in Syuejia District (學甲), Greater Tainan, a traditionally Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stronghold.

The China-based Shanghai Fisheries Group struck a deal with a company in Syuejia last year to buy 1.8 million kilograms of milkfish from the southern Taiwanese district starting in August, local media reported. The deal attracted the attention of the Business Weekly because it marked the first time that a Chinese company had committed to buying a specified amount of milkfish over a specified period of time at a preset price from southern Taiwanese fish farmers.

The fish are scheduled to be purchased through a Taiwanese company from 100 contract aquaculture farmers in Syuejia, a rural stronghold of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The weekly said in a report in its Oct. 24-30 issue that the deal was initiated by Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中), vice chairman of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, during a visit to Syuejia in August last year in an apparent effort to sway voters there.

Business Weekly editor-in-chief Kuo Yi-ling (郭奕伶) revealed the findings of its 429-day study on Wednesday, saying that the milkfish deal could be an effective indicator of the impact of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

Zheng proposed the deal shortly after Taiwan and China signed the ECFA, which was largely based on free-trade agreements between several other countries, Kuo said.

Business Weekly interviewed three aquaculture farmers who joined the contract supply arrangement between Shanghai Fisheries Group and Tainan-based Shinejia Foods Co.

A 50-year-old woman identified only as Nichiu said she was taking part in the program because the terms were not bad. Under the pact, the price for the fish was set at NT$75 a kilogram, which is NT$5 to NT$10 higher than the general market price, she said.

“I hope the pact will help me repay the NT$8 million debt I incurred because of flooding caused by Typhoon Morakot in 2009,” the woman said.

Business Weekly commissioned Shih Hsin University to conduct an opinion poll among adult residents in Syuejia earlier this year to see how the relatively lucrative milkfish deal would affect Syuejia residents’ voting behavior.

Syuejia has a population of less than 20,000 and historically up to 70 percent supported the DPP.

Poll results showed that 44 percent of the respondents were aware of the milk fish deal between the Shanghai company and Shinejia Foods, while 55 percent said they had heard of the ECFA.

Among those aware of the milkfish deal, 60 percent gave it a thumbs-up, while only 8 percent opposed it. The support rate was especially high among fish farmers and college graduates.

Asked who should be credited for the deal, most of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) supporters answered the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, while a majority of DPP supporters said it was the fruit of businesspeople’s efforts, the poll said.

The Business Weekly survey found that only 48 percent of the respondents were willing to answer the question about their voting preferences in the upcoming presidential poll. Of those, 57 percent said they would vote for DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文); 31 percent said they would vote for Ma and 12 percent said they would back People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

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