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Government seeks to better offshore transportation: Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday said the government is seeking to improve transportation between Taiwan and its offshore islands.

The president was speaking at a Kuomintang (KMT) gathering at a Penghu activity center while several residents of the offshore island county protested outside against rising air fares for flights to and from Taiwan.

Ma called on the Transportation Ministry to tackle Penghu's problems, as well as other offshore areas, by providing for convenient and inexpensive ways of travel.

Offshore areas, including Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and Green Island, are connected to Taiwan by small planes and ferries.

The government is aware of the fact that residents in offshore areas lack the kind of resources often enjoyed by their counterparts on the main island, Ma said, adding that it is the government's responsibility to improve their lives.

During the gathering, Ma, in his capacity as the ruling party's chairman, presented awards to several senior KMT members in Penghu.

Ma later visited a temple to pray for the country. He noted that although Taiwan's economy was bad last year, he believes it will improve in 2013, with the government predicting a 3.15-percent growth for the year. He pointed out that exports already started to recover in September last year.

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Several Penghu residents unfurl a banner protesting air fare increases outside an activity center on the offshore island county while President Ma Ying-jeou gives a speech, yesterday. Flights are a major transport link between Penghu and Taiwan. (CNA)

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