Wed, Jan 09, 2013 - Page 8 News List


Law protects only the rich

Sixteen years ago a dispute erupted over pensions and severance payments due to workers made redundant by factory closures.

On the evening of Dec. 30, the workers braved the cold to protest outside the Presidential Office in Taipei against the government’s failure to force the industrialists to pay them money they were owed.

The government, unable to stand up to the industrialists, chose to blame the vulnerable party in the dispute — the laid-off workers — and even hired lawyers, using the Council for Labor Affairs’ budget, to investigate the subrogation fund promised by former council chairman Hsu Chieh-kuei (許介圭).

The authorities’ harsh treatment cut deeper than the cold on that December night.

When will the public wake up and see the true colors of this government?

After the National Conference on Industrial Development early last month, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said the focus of the discussion had been on optimizing the structural integrity of domestic industry and improving Taiwan’s economy.

How ironic that the workforce — a major structural component of domestic industry — should be denied a voice during the conference. Surely, the more than 9 million workers in this nation are more than just a means by which industrialists and investors can profit. Do workers’ opinions and policy suggestions regarding the direction of economic development really carry such little weight?

Senior officials are preoccupied with securing the benefit of the few, regardless of the repercussions to the general populace or the land itself.

Is this warped conception of industrial development really what workers like you and me envisage as the way to obtain the future we aspire to?

How this contrasts with the words of our president in his New Year’s Day flag-raising ceremony address, in which he waxed lyrical about how all 23 million Taiwanese, regardless of status, region, occupation or generation, are all in this together. How sincere was he being?

Theoretically, everyone in this nation enjoys basic guarantees, including the right to work, the right to have a place to live, the right to sustenance and the right to assembly.

Some have the resources to manipulate the law to their own ends, while corrupt officials line their pockets with taxpayers’ hard-earned money and the opinions of ordinary citizens are drowned out by the spittle of TV pundits.

Is the law only supposed to guarantee the rights of the rich and powerful?

Cheng Pi-hsia


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