TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Councilors keen to buy shot fisherman’s vessel

By Wang Jung-hsiang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Thu, May 16, 2013 - Page 3

In what they described as an effort to ensure that the nation remembers the fatal attack by Philippine Coast Guard personnel on a Taiwanese fishing boat last week, several Greater Kaohsiung councilors from across party lines on Tuesday expressed their desire to purchase the bullet-riddled ship and put it on permanent display.

Greater Kaohsiung councilors Hung Ping-lang (洪平朗) and Chen Ming-tse (陳明澤) of the Democratic Progressive Party, as well as Lee Chang-sheng (李長生) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) offered to buy the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, registered in Pingtung County’s Liouciou Township (琉球), for NT$8 million (US$272,000).

They made the offer amid an escalating diplomatic row between Taipei and Manila over the shooting of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) on Thursday, when a joint patrol by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources opened fire on the Taiwanese boat while it operated in the overlapping economic zone of the two nations.

The incident has triggered indignation among many Taiwanese and prompted the government to impose punitive sanctions on the Philippines after Manila failed to satisfactorily respond to Taipei’s request for a formal apology and other demands by the 72-hour deadline by midnight on Tuesday.

“If the purchase is finalized, our initial plan is to have the boat set on a trailer to tour the nation before putting in on permanent display at a harbor in Kaohsiung’s Cieding District (茄萣) as an historic artifact,” Hung Ping-lang said.

Hung Ping-lang said that the councilors hoped to ensure that Taiwanese would never forget the aggression wrought by the Philippine Coast Guard personnel, and hoped it would unite Taiwanese in defending the nation against intruders and arouse their sense of nationalism.

The offer to purchase the boat is part of the trio’s efforts to support Hung Shih-cheng’s family through concrete actions, Chen said, adding that he hoped the move would not only encourage Taiwanese to reflect on the unfortunate incident, but also provide financial support to the victim’s family.

Chen added that the offered price of NT$8 million was calculated based on the reported value of the fishing boat.