2012 ELECTIONS: Ma spends night at fruit grower’s house in Taichung

RETRACING STEPS::The president said he was glad to be back in the place where he launched his first long-stay trip in the 2008 presidential campaign

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election next month, yesterday launched another home-stay trip at a local fruit grower’s house in the Dongshih District (東勢) of Greater Taichung, seeking to consolidate his support in the crucial city ahead of the presidential election.

Ma spent a night at the house of local farmer Chan Te-sen (詹德森), a board member of the Taichung Agriculture Association, and met with a group of local farmers to discuss agricultural issues, including the price of locally grown fruits and the export of agricultural products to China under the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

“Taichung was my first stop when I launched my long-stay trips during the 2008 presidential election campaign when I stayed at a teacher’s house in the city,” Ma said when discussing the home-stay experience before visiting Chan.

“I’ve become friends with most of the families I have stayed with during the long-stay trips and [home stay] is a great way to better understand local issues,” Ma said.

The president also had rice dumpling with the farmers to celebrate the upcoming winter solstice, also known as the Dongzhi Festival (冬至).

The home-stay last night was Ma’s second stay in Taichung’s Fongyuan District (豐原).

He had stayed at the home of a local farmer in the district last month, followed by another overnight trip to a National University of Kaohsiung dormitory last month.

Taichung is deemed as a key city for Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the presidential and legislative elections after the party almost lost the city to the Democratic Progressive Party in last year’s special municipality elections.

KMT Culture and Communication Committee director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) said Ma’s stay in Taichung would help boost the president’s momentum in central Taiwan and consolidate support for the party’s legislative candidates.

Ma is scheduled to visit Chan’s grape orchard this morning and canvass at a local market to attempt to solicit voters’ support. He is scheduled for more home-stay trips next week, Ma’s re-election campaign office said.