Interview content

Interview Highlight with Mr. Pan Zhong-zheng.


Q1:What events prompted your advocacy for algae reef conservation, and what are  your core values/beliefs?

A1:In 1995, my hometown’s algae reef ecosystem was destroyed by unscrupulous vendors. In response, we formed the Guanyin Culture Workshop to stop this from happening, but the problem remained  unresolved. Fast forward to 2007, after I went to see the algae reef site in  Xinwu, I read news articles on how the algae reefs were damaged due to industrial development. Altogether, these events shaped my passion for the protection of algae reefs.  Hence, in 2009, I formed the Dahuoxi Cultural Association, which aims to protect the algae reef ecosystem in Guanyin, where factories were about to build an industrial park. That was how I got into this algae reef topic and started the campaign to urge for algae reef protection. 

Q2:Throughout these 7 years pushing forward the referendum, did you face any challenges? Did you think of giving up?

A2:We never stopped advocating for our cause to the government, but the government did not show much support. It seemed like the government had leaned towards the companies. Despite several meetings with the president, we never received the response we anticipated, which was really frustrating and discouraging. Sometimes, I wondered if I was capable of continuing our advocacy,  as I was just a retired elementary school teacher. What I knew was that we need a strong organization to make people get involved. 

Q3:When you started the referendum, did you ever encounter a state of disagreement within the team?

A3:After sending out the petition for the algae reef Referendum, the “Algae Reef Referendum Promotion Alliance” was established, including a parent-child study group. Since the referendum got politics involved, the group must cooperate with different organizations, and fortunately, the legislators were very willing to help us. Nevertheless, the involvement of political parties led to the disapproval of some groups, which left afterwards. 

Q4:”Tai Tam Algal Reef Habitat Conservation” vs. “Coal Reduction and Air Pollution Reduction in Central and Southern China”, which is more important? (Are there any other alternative solutions)

A4:I think these two issues are two separate topics; it’s the product of collusion between the government and business. The government has made a serious mistake. Our consumption of electricity has continued to rise instead of zero growth, and algae reefs have become the victim. I think a hearing must be held, so the two sides can raise relevant issues for discussion. More importantly, the government must comply with the conclusion. However, the problem here is that the government is reluctant to hold the hearing. If a country wants to develop sustainably, it needs to regulate the development of electricity so that the environment will not be damaged.

 

Q5:Some people said that the construction will not cause the algae reefs’ area to decrease a lot. In fact, a slight increase of industrial area will bring more damage to the algae reefs. What is your opinion about it?

A5: Although the(CPC)Chinese Petroleum Corporation proposed to decrease the industry area from 232 hectares to 72 hectares, I think we should protect all the algae reefs. 

Q6:What is your opinion about the result of this referendum?

A6: I think it is really unfortunate that the referendum failed. However, , even though it didn’t pass, it still made many people care more about this topic. That being said, I believe that this referendum did, in a way, helped push forward the progress of our campaign. 

Q7:Do you think the news media report the wrong message?

A7: Yes, it is very obvious. I feel that the government controls most of the news media. The media has been under political parties’ influence and received funds from the government, thus presenting biased information that is not reliable to the public. Ultimately, not only were many people misled by the biased news media, but the referendum was also turned into a competition between two parties.

Q8:In your opinion, what are some positive impacts of this campaign? 

A8:Despite the pandemic and the competition between two parties, media exposure of the algae reef issue will still make Taiwanese pay more attention to this topic. I believe as time goes on, our campaign on algae reef protection will keep growing and gain more influence.