VP calls for effective relief fund management


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Vice President Annette Lu said yesterday that before sending financial donations for earthquake relief to China, the government should discuss with China the establishment of a management mechanism for such donations.

Lu, who was casting her ballot in the Democratic Progressive Party chairmanship election, made the remarks in response to questions from reporters on the Cabinet’s announcement of a NT$2 billion aid package to assist in rescue and reconstruction efforts after the devastating earthquake that struck the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan May 12.

“Humanitarian relief should know no boundaries,” Lu said, adding that Premier Chang Chun-hsiung acted on President Chen Shui-bian’s instruction in announcing the aid package for post-quake relief efforts in Sichuan, as Taiwan received relief supplies from all over the world after a 7.3-magnitude temblor hit the country Sept. 21, 1999.

“Although China has spared no efforts to block Taiwan’s accession to the World Health Organization, we should still show mercy by extending a helping hand to the Chinese quake victims,” she went on.

Chen, who will be leaving his post next Tuesday as Taiwan ushers in a new president and Cabinet, instructed the Cabinet to integrate resources from the public and private sectors to provide rescue and reconstruction assistance shortly after the earthquake that, according to Chinese official statistics, has killed more than 20,000 people and has left numerous others missing, injured or homeless.

Because of the lack of a sound rescue and relief system, a large quantity of relief supplies for Taiwan’s 921 earthquake went to waste, Lu recalled, adding that therefore, before providing Taiwanese financial donations to China, the government should ask Beijing to set up a sound donation management mechanism so that the donations can be used effectively.

The vice president also called for the public to make their financial or relief goods donations to China through the government. Of the NT$2 billion relief package, NT$700 million will be donated in the first phase together with NT$100 million worth of grain from the government’s second reserve fund, with the remaining NT$1.2 billion for reconstruction work, to be handed over in the second phase, to be raised from public contributions.

Taiwan’s financial and material donations will be sent to China for relief and construction efforts through China’s Red Cross Society and the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), according to an official of the Mainland Affairs Council.