Two Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday voted in favor of a motion proposed by the opposition that demanded the replacement of Cabinet officials of economy-related departments in response to public discontent with the country’s economic woes.
KMT legislators Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) voted in support of the motion proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party (PFP), but it was still voted down 47-44 by the KMT.
“Economic officials have to bear the blame for the sagging economy,” the proposal read.
The opposition parties listed a number of indicators: Taiwan ranked last in GDP growth in the second quarter among 12 Asian countries; it has the highest unemployment rate of the four Asian Tiger economies; its consumer price index hit a four-year high in August; and the composite index of monitoring indicators flashed a 10th straight “blue light” last month, indicating that the economy remained mired in a slowdown.
“I voted in favor of the motion because it is consistent with my beliefs that when the government is incapable and inactive, and refuses to implement a Cabinet reshuffle, it disregards valuable opportunities for Taiwan,” Ting said.
Lo said the party did not demand that caucus members vote against the motion.
“I thought it was the right thing to do to vote for it,” she said.
At a question-and-answer session yesterday afternoon, KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) told Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) that he was unable to vote for the proposal because “I am of the governing party.”
“I would have voted for it if I was not a KMT member,” he added.
Lai asked Chen to be bold and resolute in removing any incapable Cabinet officials, even in defiance of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Lo also told Chen to “show your guts” and get rid of incapable Cabinet officials favored by Ma, and to “say no” to Ma on policies which he did not agree with.
“Do you really support the policy to impose taxes on income earned from securities transactions and the hikes in fuel and electricity prices?” Lo said.
He added that the two policies implemented earlier this year imposed inflationary pressures on the local economy and caused a huge decline in stock market value in the sluggish market.
Aside from the proposal, the DPP and the TSU sponsored a motion which demanded that the president, the vice president, the premier, the vice premier and political appointees have their salaries cut in half when the GDP fails to grow by more than 3 percent for two quarters in a row, and when the unemployment rate is not kept under 4 percent in two consecutive months.
It was voted down by 40 votes to 51. The KMT and the PFP voted against it.
Another proposal by the PFP suggested that the president, the vice president, the premier, the vice premier and political appointees be deprived of year-end bonuses when the composite index of monitoring indicators flash a “blue light” for more than six months in a year.
The DPP and the TSU voted for the proposal, but it was also voted down by the KMT.
Before the motions were voted on, Chen, in response to media inquiries on whether he supports possible pay cuts for political appointees, said he disapproved.
It is a complicated issue, but simply put, political appointees should resign to assume political responsibility rather than have their salaries cut, Chen said.