Ko’s approach is correct
As part of his insistence on cutting down on one-time payments, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has said that, beginning next year, the city would cut NT$700 million (US$21.5 million) from the bonuses that are paid to senior citizens every year to mark Double Ninth Day — also known as Senior Citizens’ Day — by excluding wealthy elderly people from the program.
The decision has been criticized by both city councilors and the public. Ko has said that city councilors have told him that going ahead with the cuts would shave 5 percent off his approval rating. Despite this, Ko said “what must be done must be done.”
Ko’s approach is in fact the correct approach. He should call on other counties and cities to review the bonuses handed out to senior citizens, since the mayor of Taipei does not have to pay too much attention to approval ratings, as higher approval rating does not always guarantee re-election.
After former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was elected mayor of Taipei in November 1995, a Gallup poll showed that Chen’s approval stood at 76.5 percent and in 1996, that number had increased to 84 percent.
In 1997, his approval rating had dropped slightly back to 76 percent and it was still at that level by the end of 1998.
However, despite his popularity, Chen failed to be re-elected.
This is a good reason why Ko should be encouraged to act bolder in his reforms and not stop at excluding wealthy elderly people from receiving the senior citizen bonus.
In the past, he has talked about simplifying the process for awarding model students. He should go ahead with a root-and-branch reform so that all that is required is that each school take pictures of its model students.
This would really make city residents feel that things are changing.
New Taipei City
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