Business tycoon Preston Chen (陳武雄), chairman of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, said yesterday he would quit investing in the Kuokuang petrochemical project because of continued delays.
“I’m not investing. No investment project in the world can defer for so long,” Chen said in disappointment.
The Kuokuang petrochemical project was worth investing in four years ago, but it’s now a big question mark, he said.
“The world is changing fast in terms of business competitiveness. Kuokuang Petrochemical has my sympathy for all it has endured over the past years for the development project,” he added.
He repeated a statement by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) earlier yesterday, saying the government attaches equal importance to economic development and environmental protection, but if the two issues conflict and one must be favored, environmental protection would win out.
He lamented that major investment projects in the country don’t receive enough support, pointing out that a similar project was proposed in Singapore half a year after the Kuokuang project and the Singaporean petrochemical complex has already started commercial production.
However, Chen said that if the Kuokuang petrochemical project fails an environmental impact assessment, which would prompt the government to call a halt on it, he would not press the issue.
“We can head abroad if it’s impossible in Taiwan,” he said.
More than 300 academics have opposed the Kuokuang petrochemical project, which is slated be built on a central Taiwan coastal wetland and include naphtha cracking and oil refining facilities.
The academics have been against the development project because they said the heavy energy consumer and major polluter could cause severe water and air pollution that would affect the area’s coastal wetlands, farm crops and residents.
The petrochemical complex could also lead to the extinction of the critically endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, which has a population of less than 100, according to the academics.
Earlier this month, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) caused a ruckus when he, asked for comment on environmentalists’ appeal concerning the endangered humpback dolphins, said that the dolphins should be able to “make a turn” to avoid a planned harbor for the shipment of petrochemical products in the area.
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