Thu, Feb 05, 2015 - Page 3 News List

TAIPEI CRASH: Politicians express condolences

MOVING PROPOSAL:KMT Legislator Alex Tsai said that Premier Mao Chi-kuo had objected to proposals to move Songshan airport while he was transport minister

By Loa Iok-sin and Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporters

Police examine damage to a guard rail on the Huandong Expressway in Taipei after TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 hit the roadway.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Political parties issued separate statements yesterday afternoon after the TransAsia crash, offering condolences to the people killed and prayers for survivors.

“At this moment, all party members are joining people nationwide as they pray for the passengers and crew members on the flight and everyone else affected,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said in a news release. “I sincerely hope that the rescue and recovery work will go smoothly and the damage can be kept to a minimum.”

“As the ruling party, the KMT will spare no effort in helping with the rescue and the aftermath,” the news release added.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) canceled a campaign press conference for Saturday’s legislative by-elections.

“At the moment, there is nothing more important than seizing the golden hours to rescue those caught in the accident and wholeheartedly pray for them,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said ahead of the party’s Central Executive Committee meeting at its headquarters in Taipei.

“Therefore, we canceled the press conference for the campaign and all our candidates, Executive Committee members and the entire party staff will pray for the victims and encourage rescuers before the meeting begins,” she said.

DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said the accident shows that a proposal to relocate [Taipei International Airport] Songshan airport should be seriously considered.

“When I proposed to relocate the airport in the past, I warned that the most serious flight accidents have been associated with airports in city centers, as they caused damage to civilian buildings,” Yao said on Facebook. “In the long run, Songshan airport must be relocated.”

DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), who represented the party in the 2002 Taipei mayoral election and also proposed to relocate the airport, made similar remarks.

“As we wait for experts to find out the cause of the accident, I’m now more than ever convinced that Songshan airport must be moved,” he said.

KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元), whose constituency is in Taipei’s Neihu (內湖) and Nangang (南港) districts, lambasted Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) over the former transportation and communications minister’s objection to proposals to move the airport during his time in his former office.

Alex Tsai said he has supported relocation for many years and even financed a new airport design, “but the proposal was repeatedly opposed by Mao and got mothballed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).”

The relocation could lessen the risk of accidents, help rid the city of aircraft noise, suppress urban housing prices by lifting restrictions on building heights near the airport and increase the land available for housing, as well as increase employment by allowing technology parks, Alex Tsai said.

“However, Mao opposed the idea, saying that Songshan airport has never endangered the safety of Neihu and Nangang residents,” he added.

“This TransAsia crash proves that the airport, which has been getting busier, is putting people’s safety at risk. It is now a global consensus that an airport should not be in a downtown area,” he said, calling Mao an “old and proud bureaucrat” as minister and urging the premier to support the relocation proposal.

Meanwhile, local celebrities took to social media sites yesterday to pray for the victims.

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