Sun, Jan 18, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Avian flu demonstrators greet Ma with dead birds

MA THE MERCILESS:Protesters said that the president acted as if he were a tourist on a visIt, and that he paid no attention to the suffering of poultry farmers in the area

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Protesters hold up a bird and posters at a rally in Greater Tainan yesterday as President Ma Ying-jeou arrived for a visit to a manufacturer in the city. One of the posters reads: “Apart from Ma Ying-jeou, no one is more merciless than I am.”

Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Taipei Times

Protesters bearing eggs and dead birds yesterday rallied in Greater Tainan as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) arrived for an inspection of a manufacturer in Greater Tainan.

As avian influenza continues to spread across poultry farms, especially in southern Taiwan, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Tainan branch director Chen Chang-hui (陳昌輝) led a score of people in a protest outside Alex Global Technology, a wheel rim supplier, demanding answers over the outbreak.

“Ma Ying-jeou thinks this is a tourist destination, even though it is suffering an avian influenza virus outbreak. Am I not allowed to tell him [what’s going on here]?” Chen shouted as police blocked the protesters from entering the premises.

The protesters brought a basket of eggs, on which were written “H5N2,” “H5N3” and “H5N8” — the strains of avian influenza detected in Taiwan this winter — a live duck and a dead chicken, along with posters expressing dissatisfaction with Ma.

“Apart from Ma Ying-jeou, no one is more merciless than I am,” read one of the posters, as if spoken by one of the viruses.

It appears that Ma just wants to “sit out” the remainder of his term, because he has paid no attention to the suffering of poultry farmers, Chen said.

Chen said that Ma should have stayed in Taipei to coordinate with central government agencies to assist local governments over personnel shortages and resources to combat the outbreak.

“I thought he came down to get a better understanding of the inflection and how the disease has affected poultry farmers, but he went to visit a manufacturer,” Chen said. “That shows that the president did not know what is going on here.”

“We were here to speak up for the farmers,” he added.

The trip to Alex Global Technology was one of a series of visits by Ma to highlight benefits he said the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement has brought local businesses and to push for further trade liberalization.

Ma also inspected the construction site of the southern branch of the National Palace Museum, which is due to be completed in October.

The branch, in southern Chiayi County, built at a cost of more than NT$10.9 billion (US$345.24 million), has been characterized as a “museum of Asian art and culture.”

It will collect, research, preserve and exhibit artifacts and relics from across Asia, according to the museum.

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