Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Year-end revelries wasteful: netizens

PUBLIC WASTE:Critics of lavish government-sponsored New Year’s Eve parties said the money would be better spent on promoting creative arts and cultural activities

By Gan Chih-chi, Chao Ching-yu and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Pop group S.H.E performs at the New Year’s Eve party in Greater Taichung on Jan. 1.

Photo: Liao Yao-tung, Taipei Times

An online campaign urging people to boycott extravagant government-sponsored New Year’s Eve parties during which millions of NT dollars are spent on the programs and accompanying fireworks has garnered tens of thousands of supporters.

Within a few days of its launch, more than 14,000 people joined the Facebook campaign, which states: “I will not attend, nor will I join any New Year’s Eve party, which is the government’s way of squandering taxpayers’ money.”

The petition says that for many cities and counties, the local government’s full-year budget for arts and culture is spent on this final day of the year.

Huge amounts of money are spent on such events, which — like the fireworks — are blown up and dissipate within seconds, it said.

Numerous netizens posted messages in support of the campaign.

“These events are for people who have political connections or for their companies to get rich. They are not members of the underprivileged in society,” a netizen wrote.

“It would be better to hold New Year’s Eve activities that promote local culture and its special characteristics, or tourism in the area. [Local governments] can also organize programs like year-end charity drives, collecting donations of food and other goods for distribution to needy families during the wintertime. That would be much more practical and meaningful,” another wrote.

Writer Liu Ka-Shiang (劉克襄) said these mass entertainment shows, starting from before Christmas to New Year’s Eve, mainly feature celebrities such as Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕) or Jolin Tsai (蔡依林).

“Aren’t there more meaningful creative arts and culture events that people can attend and learn some new insights or perspectives?” Liu asked.

“Taiwanese society is poor and run down, yet huge amounts of public funds are allocated for these events to artificially create merriment. It is deluding the masses ... with these fantasies. This is wrong,” he added.

Liu said that city and county governments could host such events by rotation, instead of holding similar events. More opportunities should also be given to young artists and creative culture performers to let them take the stage at these events, he said.

Huang Huan-chang (黃煥彰), a medical science professor and environmental activist, also supported the campaign, saying “a true city of happy living should leave a sustainable environment for the next generation.”

While a number of city and county government officials have said in response that these kinds of revelries can help stimulate the local economy and promote tourism, those who oppose it say that tens of millions of dollars are spent to invite star performers, along with the bill for clean-up.

Additional reporting by Tsai Wen-chu

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