Friday, July 30, 2010

Opposition pressures Government in wake of the second Formosa fire

Sunday night's fire at the Formosa Plastics Naphtha Cracker plant in Mailiao in Yunlin County. Formosa Plastics were the winners of the infamous Black Planet Award in 2009 for their horrendous environmental track record. Photo courtesy of MFCU.

In response to Sunday night's fire at the Formosa Plastics Group plant in Mailiao in Yunlin County the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said on Wednesday that it would not likely support further expansion for the petrochemical industry if it were re-elected in 2012 because of health and environmental concerns. We welcome this apparent change of heart on the DPP's position on the expansion of the petrochemical industry. However, the DPP needs to demonstrate commitment to such a position to show that their commitment is real. Words alone are meaningless and nothing but opportune criticism of the ruling KMT regime. Yesterday, Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-feng, a member of the opposition DPP, joined a group of Mailiao Township residents protesting outside the Executive Yuan. The question is what is Su going to do today? Joining protests without action is nothing but politicking.

We remember well the then-DPP administration in 2005 pushing for the construction of a planned Naphtha Cracker plant in neighbouring Changhua County. We also remember that Yunlin County Commissioner Su never got behind efforts to stop the Hushan Dam project, a project largely to ensure the water needs of the planned expansion of the petrochemical industry on the west coast.

The DPP's origins go back to the environmental movement of the mid 1980s when Taiwan was under the one-party-dictatorship of the Chinese National Party (KMT). The KMT had enacted Marshal Law in the late 1940s and this period of state-sanctioned terror was only "lifted" in the late 1980s. Because of the DPPs environmental roots the DPP and its allies have been known as the Greens or Green Camp; something many who have concerns for the Taiwan environment find distasteful considering how quickly the DPP abandoned their environmental beliefs when they got into power in 2000. Let's hope that the DPP has had a genuine change of heart and have returned to their original core beliefs.

The KMT also seems to be attempting some form of damage control. A KMT Legislator has proposed amending the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures to make polluting enterprises give 20 percent of their income tax and 30 percent of their commodity tax directly to cities and counties where their factories are located. The KMT has stopped well short of any attempt to rein in the petrochemical industry and still seems determined to ensure the planned expansion of the industry succeeds. Their draconian forced seizure of property to make way for planned industrial expansion moved up a level. This time it wasn't farmers but unwanted trees and elderly residents who were 'cleared' to make way for the Taipei International Flora Expo.

For more, see the following Taipei Times articles:
DPP turns on petrochemicals

Formosa may need two weeks to restart

Dead fish thrown at Executive Yuan

Also see:
Government quick to defend Formosa Plastics in the wake of a second fire

Formosa Plastics on fire again

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