Patrols are not
military drill, Ma says
PHILIPPINES ROW: Ma said coast guard and navy
patrols were intended to protect fishing boats, not raise tensions. He also said
he was determined to continue with reforms
By Mo Yan-chih / Staff reporter
President Ma Ying-jeou introduces
the 20 winners of the 16th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award at the
Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday.
President Ma Ying-jeou (°¨^¤E) yesterday
stressed the nation¡¦s role as a regional peacemaker amid tensions between Taiwan
and the Philippines over a shooting incident, and said the navy and Coast Guard
Administration¡¦s (CGA) joint patrol in the overlapping waters last week aimed to
protect the safety of local fishermen, rather than being a military drill.
The combined exercise of the navy and CGA in waters about 164 nautical miles
(304km) southeast of the southernmost tip of Taiwan ¡X where the 15-tonne
Taiwanese fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was attacked by a Philippine Coast
Guard vessel, leading to the death of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (¬x¥Û¦¨) ¡X
demonstrated the government¡¦s determination to protect Taiwanese fishermen and
allowed the Philippines to understand Taiwan¡¦s stance, he said.
¡§Although it was a military exercise, we have no intentions of raising the
tensions [between Taiwan and the Philippines]. However, our demands for the
Philippine government to apologize and compensate will not change,¡¨ he said when
meeting with Olivier Richard, director of the French Office in Taipei, in the
Ma said the nation¡¦s signing of a fisheries agreement with Japan last month
protected the rights of fishermen in both countries and helped ease the tension
in the East China Sea. He expected Taiwan and the Philippines to launch
negotiations on fishery agreements soon and resolve the shooting incident.
¡§We¡¦d like to engage in more exchanges with neighboring countries. Our fisheries
agreement with Japan is having a positive impact on the East Sea, and the
international community is welcoming such agreements,¡¨ he said.
Later, in an interview with Chinese-language broadcaster China Television aired
yesterday, he said negotiations on a fishery agreement can still begin at any
time, as such an agreement would provide fishermen from both sides with more
guidelines and protection while operating in disputed waters.
¡§The incident is still under investigation, and we believe that the incident
should be solved very soon,¡¨ he said.
When asked to comment on his low approval ratings in his fifth year in office,
Ma said he has insisted on long-term reforms that would not receive applauds
from the people in the short term, and said his administration will continue
with the reform measures, including the government restructuring plans, pension
reforms and tax reform for retired veterans, teachers and civil servants.
He acknowledged failing to carry out his ¡§6-3-3¡¨ campaign pledge ¡X annual
economic growth of 6 percent, annual per capita income of US$30,000 and an
unemployment rate of less than 3 percent per year ¡X but said the government
would not give up on those goals.
¡§The government is confronted with great challenges to meet the goals because of
continuous global financial crisis. However, we haven¡¦t given up on them, and we
will work harder to realize the promise,¡¨ he said.