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Ma touts Taiwan's economic recovery

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday touted Taiwan's 2012 economic achievements while handing out red envelopes in Miaoli County yesterday.

It is customary that on the second day of the Lunar New Year, Ma hands out red envelopes at the Ma Estate in Tunghsiao, Miaoli County, and yesterday he did it for the 15th year in a row.

He first entered the estate to worship the Ma ancestors. Then, he took pictures with residents of the Ma Estate and gave out Lunar New Year fortune bags and gifts to Ma elders over 80 years of age.

Since Tunghsiao is a Hakka-rich area, he greeted the locals with the Hakka dialect and made a short speech. Afterward, he handed out red envelopes to visitors who stood in a long line.

During his speech, Ma said that the economy was in bad shape for much of 2012 but noted that in the final quarter it improved according to various data.

“The figures in January were even more impressive,” he said. “We saw a rise in exports, a decline in unemployment and an increase in the procurement managers' index. All these are signs that the spring swallows have indeed returned.”

In spite of the good economic performance, Ma cautioned against complacency, saying Taiwan cannot bask in self-glory.

“We must do our utmost to further boost the economy and implement plans to enhance Taiwan's free trade zones,” he added. “This way we can ensure even higher growth during the Year of the Little Dragon.”

This year is the Year of the Snake, yet most people call it the Year of the Little Dragon, which sounds more auspicious.

Ma handed out some 1,000 red envelopes. The first in line was again Yuan Ming-chuan of Taichung City, who has stood first in line for five years in a row. The man came to Tunghsiao five days ago to be the first in line.

He asked Ma to sign the books that he brought and gave Ma a good luck charm that he got from a temple, in the hope that Ma will do a good job governing the country this year.

Among those standing in line were elderly people nearly 90 years of age as well as children. Some even brought their dogs and cats to the line.

Some came from the Kuanghua Community of Taipei City. When it was their turn to receive the envelops they fell down on their knees, demanding Ma help them relocate after their homes were torn down as part of a community revitalization program. They were immediately taken away by secret service agents.

Separately, Vice President Wu Den-yih prayed for a peaceful and prosperous year at Lingjiou Mountain Monastery in Kungliao, New Taipei City, yesterday.

When he arrived at the monastery, he was greeted by Master Hsintao and was then taken to the main temple, where he offered his prayers.

“It is my hope that various gods will watch over Taiwan this year so that we can have a peaceful and abundant 2013,” he said.

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President Ma Ying-jeou, center, gives a red envelope to Chen Yu-chang's mother, right, as Chen, the chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission, left, looks on. Ma hands out red envelopes at the Ma Estate in Miaoli County on the second day of the Lunar Year each year.

(CNA)

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