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September 26, 2017

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Former ROCCOC head calls on government to

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In light of last week's gas leak explosions in Kaohsiung, Chang Pen-tsao (張平沼), former chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the R.O.C. (ROCCOC, 商總) yesterday urged the central government to first address oversights in industrial safety standards before establishing a specialized zone for Taiwan's petrochemical sector.

Chang stated that although the petrochemical sector represents an important component of Taiwan's economy, the safety and well-being of the people must come first, at a forum event hosted by the Taiwan Research Institute (台綜院).

Chang yesterday emphasized that, as he used to attend elementary and junior high school in Kaohsiung, the recent disaster has affected him deeply. Thus his desire to appeal for revised regulations to govern the use of pipelines to deliver potentially harmful gasses by petrochemical companies. Chang, however, stated that if pipelines are ruled out in the future, grave consequences will beset the domestic petrochemical sector.

According to Chang, the government should take heed of international precedents in resolving current challenges, while citing the example of a similar pipeline-related explosion in China's Tsingtao, after which the city government prohibited gas pipelines carrying industrial raw materials to pass under residential areas with the exception of natural gas.

Although the impact of the blasts is expected to impact Taiwan's petrochemical sector, a vital component of the economy, this year's GDP growth should be able to maintain a level above 3 percent, said Chang, depending on the performance of other enterprise sectors over the second half of this year.

In addition, Chang urged acceleration in Taiwan's participation in international trade agreements. Taiwan's economic prosperity is facing increasing competition amid lacking progress on the cross-strait trade in goods agreement and the establishment of free trade agreements between South Korea, Europe and the U.S.

Incidentally, Chang and his wife Chen Shu-chu (陳淑珠) have been dealt heavy sentences for breach of trust violations as stipulated under the Securities and Exchange Act (證交法) over their involvement in a case dating back to 2005.

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