Improving infrastructure and boosting the economy in areas along the west coast would be a priority if she were elected next month, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in Yunlin County yesterday.
The coastal areas between Greater Tainan and Changhua County have gone from being the earliest developed region in Taiwan’s history to a less-developed part of the country now, Tsai said on the second day of her five-day campaign tour along Highway No. 17, also known as the Western Coastal Highway.
“It’s unfortunate and we have to change that,” she told supporters in the coastal areas of Changhua and Yunlin counties, where most residents make a living off fishing, aquaculture and agriculture.
The region would no longer be ignored, as past administrations did, as her administration would allocate much more government resources to improving the local infrastructure, she said.
Tsai was treated to hands-on experience when she was taught by an oyster farmer how to separate an oyster from its shell with a drill in Wanggong Township (王功) in Changhua.
The farmer told Tsai she works 14 hours to make NT$500 and expressed hope Tsai would help her township develop agriculture, fishing and tourism to boost the local economy.
Citing the traditional idiom “wind tip and water tail” (風頭水尾) to describe the area, where residents have to endure the northeast monsoon and water shortages in the winter, as well as torrential rains and flooding in the summer, Tsai said the perseverance of local residents signified the Taiwanese spirit.
What the new administration should do is no different from what Matsu, the Taoist goddess of the sea, has always been doing, which is “to safeguard your well-being and safety,” she told supporters in Lugang Township (鹿港), Changhua County.
At Fangyuan Township (芳苑), also in Changhua, Tsai said her campaign was aiming to beat the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the presidential poll in Changhua County, regarded as a crucial battleground, by 60,000 votes — twice the winning margin of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) re-election campaign in 2004.
Tsai also addressed environmental protection after she and her entourage crossed the border from Changhua into Yunlin County, where a controversial Kuokuang Petrochemical plant was to be constructed before large protest nipped the project.
Speaking in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County, where the sixth naphtha cracking plant is located, Tsai said the DPP had always prioritized environment and health over industrial development and would maintain that position.
Tsai proposed to establish a special zone for agriculture in Yunlin and Chiayi, one of the nation’s most important regions for produce, as part of her plan to revive the agricultural industry and increase Taiwan’s grain self-sufficiency rate from 32 percent to at least 40 percent.