President praises student policy proposals in annual youth meeting
Central News Agency
2014-08-31 07:53 PM
Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou praised local college students during a meeting with the nation's youth Sunday, where he said their constantly expanding horizons have helped them produce solid and practical suggestions for national policy. Policy projects proposed by students this year are well-thought-out and feasible, indicating success in their research as a national youth policy meeting enters its seventh year, Ma said. The president was impressed with proposals from the students in attendance, particularly a project developed by law students at National Chengchi University and presented by students of the diplomacy department that focuses on midwifery.

He praised the well-roundedness of the students and said that foreign affairs workers have to know about agriculture, nutrition and education, among other things, even though they are only loosely related to diplomacy because each is critical to Taiwan's aid to diplomatic allies. The president gave his comments after listening to suggestions made by seven groups of college students. Two teams came from National Taipei University, one of which focused on agriculture and the other on energy policy. Describing the agriculture suggestions as "valuable," Ma expressed hopes that the proposals will increase Taiwanese people's appetite for rice as local annual consumption has dropped to 48 kilograms per capita from the 98 kg three decades ago. The president said the decline has had an impact on efforts to cut reliance on food imports and on overall food security, adding that he hoped the Council of Agriculture can give serious attention to the students' advice. The president also responded to concerns expressed by another group of students about a gap between the boom in work on exhibition spaces and art centers in the southern city of Kaohsiung and the number of visitors there. While the use of free events to cultivate a love for art is good, Ma said, efforts have to be made to encourage visitors to pay to support the contributing artists. Speaking about the difficulties facing street buskers, Ma suggested competitions should be held for street performers to increase their profile and, in turn, their income. "The best way to sell something is by holding competitions," Ma said, citing the Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival which was initiated some 10 years ago amid dwindling interest in the local dish. The festival has helped boost appetite for beef noodle soup to an unprecedented level and even has marketed the delicacy abroad, he added. Civil engineering students from National Taiwan University meanwhile made a proposal for a round-the-island bicycle trail to cut pollution, capitalizing on popularity of the public bicycle rental services now available in many of the country's major cities. Commenting on the proposal, Ma said a bicycle trail around Taiwan is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. However, he noted the limitations facing biking as a means of sustainable transport including long-distance travel, suggesting instead the use of other forms of public transportation for long-haul trips. (By Kelven Huang, Hsu Chih-wei and Scully Hsiao)

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