The usage of electricity for the Chunghsing Apartment (中興寓所) — the codename for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) residence — has decreased by as much as 88 percent, when comparing its electricity bill last year with the usage of electricity in 2007 by then--president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) residence, a Presidential Office report said yesterday.
According to the Presidential Office report, the amount of electricity used at the presidential residence in the past four years has seen a “drastic drop,” and the monthly average of electricity usage last year was 3,487 kilowatt hours (kWh), compared with 28,433kWh in 2007, or roughly 88 percent less.
During Chen’s administration, average monthly electricity use at the Yushan Residence (玉山官邸) — the codename assigned to Chen’s residence — went from 12,120kWh in 2000 to 28,433kWh in 2007, which is a growth rate of about 2.3 times, the Presidential Office report said yesterday.
The Presidential Office said that since Ma moved into the presidential residence, the property’s consumption of electricity has shown a downward trend. As for Ma’s own residence in Taipei City’s Wenshan District (文山), the average reading per month is 392kWh and the average monthly electricity bill between 2006 and October 2008 amounted to NT$971.
Ma has strived to save energy and reduce carbon emissions even in summer, the office said, as he only switched on air conditioners for a few hours a day in the hottest month of the summer and used electric fans the rest of the time.
In response, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said Ma constantly compared himself with former president Chen Shui-bian.
Lin said the government pays the electricity bills of the presidential residence with taxpayers’ money, while the public has to pay more expensive bills from their own hard-earned money because of the surging fuel prices, electricity rates and consumer-goods prices.
“Ma only pays attention to Chen and disregards the miserable livelihood of the people, suggesting he is distant from the people,” Lin said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs announced on April 12 that as from May 15, the state-run Taiwan Power Co will hike power rates for industrial users by 35 percent, for commercial users by 30 percent and for households by an average of 16.9 percent.
The electricity price hike, in addition to the ministry’s announcement on April 1 that gasoline prices would be raised by between 7 percent and 11 percent, effective from April 2, have fueled public grievances.
A poll released by the think tank Taiwan Brain Trust on April 15 shows that more than 90 percent of respondents said the recent gasoline price hikes and other increases in retail prices have increased their financial burden.
The need to tighten their budgets has also led to people’s discontent with the government, as the poll showed 85.3 percent of respondents saying they felt dissatisfied with the government’s ability to handle livelihood issues.
Additional reporting by CNA
Translated by Jake Chung and Stacy Hsu, Staff Writers