Ma courts Hakka, women voters in Miaoli


TAIPEI — President Ma Ying-jeou continued his campaign trip in Miaoli County Thursday to solicit support from the Hakka community and women voters after staying the night at the home of a local ward chief.

Ma visited two local markets early that morning, where he was greeted by vendors and supporters who appeared to be excited about his arrival.

Many vendors gave Ma auspicious green garlic and turnips as gifts to wish him victory and good luck, while local residents also came forward to ask for the president’s autograph, shake hands or have their photos taken with him.

Ma later attended a rally held by a women’s supporters club.

In an address, Ma used the Hakka dialect to greet the crowd and noted that he has Hakka ancestry. He said that over the past 13 years, he has visited Machiachuang in the county’s Tunghsiao Township every year on the second day of the Chinese Lunar New Year to worship his ancestors.

Ma also said he has a close connection with women, pointing out that he grew up in a family in which women make up the majority — he has four sisters and two daughters.

For this reason, Ma said, he attaches great importance to the rights and welfare of women and has promoted many reforms concerning women since his inauguration in 2008.

These include lowering the price of rice wine, a kitchen staple, from NT$185 to NT$25 per bottle, an issue that has great significance for housewives, he said. He added that the government is also planning to set up a gender equality department under the Cabinet to promote women’s rights.

Meanwhile, he promised that construction work for a Miaoli station on the high-speed rail system will begin next year and be completed by 2015.

During the trip, Ma also telephoned former Vice President Li Yuan-zu, who lives in Miaoli, to give his regards, according to Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi.