Building global ties
After returning from a backpacking trip in Taiwan, I can see why this nation wants to maintain its independence from the People’s Republic of China.
It is clear to me that Taiwanese live with a strong sense of freedom and enterprise that penetrates deep into society. The “new southbound policy” of extending visa-free access to ASEAN member states is just another example of this: A small nation with a growing tourist sector trying to open up its borders.
Surely this could be an example to China on how to go about building its relations with fellow global partners across the world.
Flexible holiday solution
With the new legislative session now under way, the government’s proposed “one fixed day off and one flexible rest day” amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) will undoubtedly become a key battleground.
Less than a month after the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, Taiwan celebrates Double Ten National Day. During extended holiday periods, the low efficiency of Taiwan’s transport network and difficulty in obtaining tickets causes supply problems. In order to guarantee each person the opportunity to purchase a ticket on public transport to return home during holiday periods, it is worth considering a national holiday reform: adapting the current system of “concentrating” public holidays during one period and instead introduce a “staggered” public holiday system.
The east coast transport network during extended holiday periods is a good example: whether putting on additional train services or, as was done during the recent Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, implementing a name-based booking system, demand outstrips supply so that many people continue to be inconvenienced by the “concentrated holiday period” and are packed into overcrowded trains. Such a system even affects the quality of the holiday experience.
Taiwan has transformed from a traditional manufacturing economy into a modern service-based economy. Traditional holiday periods and public holidays have been commercialized and turned into sales platforms for businesses. Concentrated public holidays only exacerbate this trend, while adding an external cost to transportation and travel, as the cost of excessive congestion is borne by those living in remote areas of the nation and who have limited access to transportation.
If the government were able to implement a flexible, staggered public holiday policy, not only would the cost to industry be minimal, it would also help relieve “holiday anxiety” and reduce traffic accidents, while improving the quality of public holidays. It would also make holiday periods feel longer.
Adopting such a system would not only help improve economic efficiency, but it would also be a politically savvy move that would bring the government a lot of kudos. Hopefully a compromise can be reached that satisfies both employers and employees.
Stan Lai’s dream
Regarding the New York Times interview of Stan Lai (賴聲川), it seems the interviewer avoided asking Lai about his involvement in the musical Dreamer — a celebration of the Republic of China’s centennial in 2011 — which cost about NT$258 million (US$8.23 million) and, directed by Lai, failed to meet the expectations of what a good musical should be. (“Theater’s evolving role in China and Taiwan,” Sept. 19, page 19). Its theme and performance were a cliche.
The two-night-only show and its high production costs shocked Taiwan’s struggling artistic community. Since then, Lai has refused to explain himself and his involvement in this scandal, having skillfully stolen money from the public coffers.
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