Penghu can be ‘green’ island chain: premier

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Oct 19, 2016 - Page 3

Penghu County could be developed into a chain of “green” energy islands with distinctive tourist attractions, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said yesterday.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yang Yao (楊曜) asked the premier during a legislative session what the government is planning for the county’s development after casinos were turned down as an option in a referendum on Saturday last week.

Penghu has clean and beautiful landscapes that could be transformed into eco-tourism attractions and its islands can be given distinctive “green” energy features alongside further development of low-carbon projects, Lin said.

“The county’s tourism could be upgraded if it featured ‘green’ energy and its beauty and special characteristics can be seen. We believe that Penghu’s natural landscapes and features have the potential to be turned into global attractions,” he said.

Yang asked the government to help the county build tourist sites in addition to existing venues — an aquarium, a geology museum, a crab museum and an ocean resources museum — and construct indoor facilities so that tourism can be maintained during winter, when the county sees a drastic drop in the number of visitors.

Lin said he agreed that winter tourism could be improved, but added that tourism-oriented islands would increase the added value of summer tourism and allow the environment to rest during winter.

DPP Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗), who campaigned against allowing casinos in the county, said the archipelago needs sustainable development.

Penghu’s natural beauty would be protected if it is shielded from overdevelopment, but the county also needs economic development, as Penghu Commissioner Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) said that his government’s annual revenue is NT$300 million (US$9.5 million), while its annual spending exceeds NT$5 billion, Chen Man-li said.

“What the county needs most is better transportation. Penghu has a total of 90 islands, and transportation between them, and between the county and Taiwan proper is crucial,” she said.

Penghu is actually larger than it seems “when you join its 90 islands,” Chen Man-li said, adding that Taiwan is a maritime nation.

An “ocean commission” has been planned, but not yet established by the Executive Yuan, Chen Man-li said and asked the premier for a timetable.

“There are two stages in the government’s restructuring plan, the first would be simpler mergers, such as the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission,” Lin said.

Establishing a “ministry of environmental resources” and an “ocean commission” would be handled in the second stage, he said.

“Whether the Coast Guard Administration, which is a big agency, would be included in the planned commission is still being debated, as some people are calling for a reconsideration of the commission’s positioning, which should be oriented toward ocean policies, strategic thinking and research.” Lin said.