Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Kaohsiung City Councilor Lee Chiao-ju (李喬如) came under fire — from inside and outside the party — yesterday for her proposal to evaluate public servants on their marital status and parenthood, as well as banning those who are older than 30 years of age from running for public office if they are unmarried and childless.
According to the councilor’s proposal, a public servant older than 30 who is unmarried and childless would receive a “C” on his or her annual performance evaluation, someone with two children would receive a “B”, while those with three children would be given an “A.”
In addition, she suggested that single men or women older than 30 should be banned from running for public office.
Lee made the suggestion to Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) during a city council meeting on Thursday, saying that her proposal would help to raise the birth rate and she asked Chen to refer her suggestion to the central government.
Fertility, the measure of the average number of children per female during her lifetime, dropped to 0.895 in 2010. That figure rebounded to 1.06 last year, but still fell well below the global average of 2.5.
Chen, a long-time human rights activist and a founding member of the DPP, who is unmarried, rejected Lee’s suggestion immediately.
“As mayor, it is my responsibility to encourage marriage and childbirth, but everyone has the right to decide what they want to do with their life,” Chen said. “There’s no country in the world that can tell people what to do [on marriage and parenthood] — everyone’s rights must be respected.”
“As mayor, I have no right to ask my employees to get married at a certain age, either,” she added.
Speaking to the press later yesterday, Lee insisted her proposal was appropriate.
“Those with such selfish ideas as not wanting to get married and not wanting to have children should shoulder some social responsibility,” she said. “A low birth rate could lead to slower economic development, an outflow of job opportunities and it could have a huge impact on many industries.”
Lee’s proposal was not only rejected by Chen, it drew criticism from legislators across party lines.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said 37-year-old DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃), who is unmarried. “Please stop this nonsense, this is not what you do to encourage people to have children.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾), 59, who is also unmarried, said Lee’s proposal was ridiculous.
“This is ridiculous,” Lo said. “Should a government employee who sits around doing nothing get an ‘A’ in their annual performance evaluation just because they have three children?”