TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As part of celebrations to mark her inauguration and to demonstrate her determination to fight the city's notorious air pollution, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) yesterday (Dec. 25) presented 10,000 bottles of air from a district of the city, causing controversy among netizens.
During her inauguration speech yesterday, Lu focused on improving the economy and controlling pollution. To demonstrate her pledge to fight against air pollution, the inauguration ceremony itself was held outdoors for the first time.
Lu said that Taichung's children should not need to see their physical education classes canceled because of bad air, reported Up Media. She pledged that over the next four years, she would vigorously work to clean up the city's air pollution, and at the end of the ceremony, she revealed that she was handing out a surprise gift of 10,000 free bottles of "Air of Guguan" (谷關空氣) from Guguan hot spring in Taichung City's Heping District, according to the report.
Bottles of "Air of Guguan" handed out at inauguration. (Photo from Facebook group 爆料公社)
The gesture triggered heated debate among netizens, some of who said on Facebook that they wanted to "exchange gifts for Christmas" after receiving the bottles of air from their city. However, some said, "I'd be mad at the person who gave me a gift like this."
Others suggested "why not package potato chips in the empty bottles?" Another netizen countered that potato chips are "packaged with nitrogen," which prevents them from oxidizing.
Taichung City Government Information Bureau Chief Wu Huang-sheng (吳皇昇) said that the 10,000 tubes had been packaged with air from Guguan before Lu took office. Wu said that Lu's colleagues had selected a day when the Air Quality Index in the area registered as "good" to manually bottle the air.
The bureau said that total expenditure for the inauguration ceremony was kept within NT$1 million (US$32,000), while the cost to bottle Guguan's air was financed out of Lu's own pocket, without any expense to the public.