Chen apologizes to nation for inadequate response to quake

The China Post staff

Four days before the anniversary of the Sept. 21 earthquake, President Chen Shui-bian, yesterday apologized to the public for the government’s poor performance in post-quake reconstruction work.

“I am very sorry that I did not satisfy the needs of earthquake victims. I would like to apologize for my government’s poor performance to all citizens,” the president said as he bowed during a speech at a news conference in the Presidential Office yesterday.

Chen attributed the government’s weak response to the administrative error, saying that the government has failed to respond efficiently in reconstruction work because officials have retained their bureaucratic way of thinking.

“As far as I have seen in areas hit hardest by the earthquake, things were not done well because of officials’ sluggish attitudes, which is the biggest problem that the new government must address,” he said.

“I am embarrassed that many quake victims did not obtain the subsidies until two or three months following the earthquake,” he added.

The new government will not make up excuses in the face of criticism, and will make an effort to identify problem areas in order to perform better, the president stressed.

“The new government can not be said to have done a good job unless every quake victim is under good care. We will run against the time to provide better service to the victims,” he said.

Chen, however, failed to have sincerity recognized by quake victims as he failed to participate in a large-scale protest activity organization by earthquake victims in Nantou last night.

The activity attracted thousands of earthquake victims and supporters who stayed overnight in camps on Nantou square. Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan, Hames Soong, chairman of the People First Party, and a spectrum of lawmakers also showed up to the event.