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Chen Chu urges Taipei not to sacrifice South’s environment
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-25 12:13 PM
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said Tuesday that the city will evaluate the operations improvement plan submitted to it by ASE as soon as possible and offer administrative assistance in helping the company correct its problems with the discharge of untreated effluent. Mayor Chen also expressed her hope that in the future Taiwan’s central government will “see southern Taiwan clearly" when it is formulating its national development strategies. She said the in the past there have been too many imbalances and omissions in planning that have put severe strains on the environment of the southern part of the island and said she hopes for more care and support from the government in righting some of those wrongs in the future. .

Chen Chu was speaking at a press conference on the occasion of the third anniversary of the merging of Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County. Looking back at recent development policy and what it has meant from economic development and investment in southern Taiwan, she said it is essential to ensure that policies are not slanted in ways that compromise the environment and the health of the people living in the southern half of the island. She noted that the incident with ASE and its pollution problems call for everyone to pause and reflect on how we all got to this situation. She reminded everyone that environmental sustainability is a fundamental value that must be preserved, noting that the city’s order for ASE to suspend operations at its K7 plant until the pollution problem is resolved is a call for greater corporate social responsibility and for concrete improvements in how corporations operate and interact with the communities around them.

Chen pointed out that the ASE incident highlights the plight faced by environmental protection authorities, who are hampered in their efforts by penalties specified in the Water Pollution Control Act that are too light and therefore ineffective. She suggested that the central government act quickly to amend relevant laws with changes such as a substantial increase in the ceiling on fines. She also pledged that Kaohsiung City will be fair and supportive of ASE as long as the company acts to protect the rights and welfare of its workers in ‘cleaning up’ the way it handles its wastewater and other operations that affect the environment and its overall impact on the city and the region. She said this includes providing whatever administrative assistance is needed to help ASE develop an improvement plan for its wastewater handling and treatment.

Chen admitted that in the past Kaohsiung had a reputation as a city that was always cloaked in industrial smoke and haze. She said that this was because Kaohsiung and southern Taiwan were victims of the national economy. Over the past ten years or so, however, Kaohsiung has gone through a gradual but steady transformation. In the brief period since the city and county were merged, Kaohsiung has won more than 150 awards at home and abroad for its public construction projects, especially in the 2011 and 2012 International Livable Cities Awards, which are widely dubbed the "Green Oscars”. In 2011 the city won 3 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze awards in the event, and in 2012 fared even better with 4 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronzes. This shows how far Kaohsiung has progressed in its efforts to make the city more hospitable to residents and visitors alike.

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