Thu, Aug 23, 2001 - Page 8 News List

The DPP is sacrificing welfare to economy

By Chiu Hei-yuan 瞿海源

Just as the national Economic Development Advisory Conference was beginning to have an impact on the current political situation, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) bluntly criticized its consensus on cross-strait economic and trade policy. A short time later, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) lashed out at the environmental impact assessment process while touring a factory.

The blunders that the nation's two top leaders have made with their outspoken criticism have further damaged the government's image. Disturbingly, their comments were not mere slips of the tongue, but rather are related to their attitudes and policy stances, indicating the damage might therefore be more serious than the surface wounds suggest.

When economic alarm bells rang after Chen took office last year, he came up with a policy of giving priority to economic development and postponing social welfare programs. When the economy rapidly worsened, Chen announced that the government would make an all-out effort to salvage it.

With the economic slowdown as a backdrop, it is understandable that the authorities concerned should work hard to solve our economic problems. But if the government -- for the sake of the economy -- sacrifices environmental protection, social welfare and even social justice, people will simply become all the more disillusioned with the DPP government.

The public can understand that the vice president serves as a spokeswoman for specific policies or stances. The public would also be inclined to show respect when the vice president puts forward her views on policy.

But Lu usually fails to act with propriety and thus triggers disputes. She not only hurts others and the government, but also herself. Often, Lu seems to forget that she is the vice president and freely criticizes the government. She has even said that everything she does and says follows her conscience, meaning that no one but she is right. She also said that those in power must have the courage to face history and their consciences. It's almost as though she is in an opposition party and is the only one with a conscience.

Indeed, Lu is perhaps most confused about whether she is in power or a member of the opposition. At the recent 2001 Global Peace Assembly, Lu, in her official status, insisted on playing a leading role in non-governmental activities and thus became the focus of criticism.

Lu has also promoted the formation of the National Union of Taiwanese Women (台灣婦女團體全國聯合會) and serves as its honorary consultant. Since taking office as vice president, Lu has worked to initiate an umbrella organization for women's groups. It looked like Lu was bringing women's organizations into her fold when she, in her capacity as vice president, tried to direct the formation of a non-governmental organization. It is a pity that some women's groups failed to maintain their status as civic organizations.

In a diverse society during a democratic era, the president should transcend all specific interest groups and protect the rights and interests of all people. The DPP has long promoted social reforms and social justice and should not sacrifice everything for the sake of the economy.

Although she has no substantive power, the vice president can only win the public's respect by choosing her words wisely. More importantly, both the president and vice president must carefully manage their relations with the private sector. Although that sector and the government do not have to be antagonistic toward one another, the nation's top two leaders have to respect majority rights and interests at the grassroots level and should not interfere in NGOs.

This story has been viewed 2981 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top