Turn pain into hope for gas explosion victims: Chen

Turn pain into hope for gas explosion victims: Chen
Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu yesterday led local officials at a press conference, where she gave an update on victims and the progress of reconstruction efforts on this one-year anniversary of the Kaohsiung gas explosions.
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu yesterday led local officials at a press conference, where she gave an update on victims and the progress of reconstruction efforts on this one-year anniversary of the Kaohsiung gas explosions.

"We will wipe away tears and transform the wounded's pain into energy to change the tragic destiny of Kaohsiung," she stressed at the press conference.

Kaohsiung City Council has passed the third reading of an administrative order on managing the city's industrial pipelines after the disaster, which require companies that have pipelines in Kaohsiung to set up their corporate headquarters in the city and bans the use of pipelines that have had safety problems in the past.

In this regard, Chen said that the regulations aim to pursue equality and justice in economic development, but the regulations were considered illegal after inspections made by the Ministry of Justice.

Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Hsu Li-ming reported on the city's achievements this past year, including emergency response, assistance support, reconstruction and pipeline management.

He also stressed the NT$4.563 billion (S$197.6 m) in donations collected so far, and referred questions about the donation's accounting and management to the "81 Gas Explosion Disaster Fund Committee." Revenue and expenses were uploaded online with the approval of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

In addition, Hsu said plans for issuing reimbursements are 97.1 per cent completed, coordinated by the Kaohsiung City Government to help families affected by the explosions. The government, China General Terminal and Distribution Corp and LYC chemical Corp also formally signed a settlement with 23 families yesterday, Hsu said.

However, Kuomintang (KMT) member and Kaohsiung City Council Secretary-General Chen Li-na also held a press conference yesterday, and pointed out that the donations, which were originally intended for disaster relief, were also transferred into the city's governance fund, including NT$20 million for Dengue Fever prevention, about NT$5 million for business revitalisation programs, about NT$6 million for art activities and about NT$200 million for landscape restoration.

She expressed her confusion about whether the above-mentioned funds belonged to the Kaohsiung City Government or should be solely used for disaster relief.

The KMT caucus in the Kaohsiung City Council requested that the donations should be focused on rehabilitation for the injured and providing financial support in the future.

In response to inquiries about the use of disaster relief donations, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen responded that the government will accept public inspection. "Please list out the problematic expenses, and we will explain," she said.

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