Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday officially unveiled her party’s 10-year policy guidelines, saying they represented “a commitment to Taiwan’s next generation” and illustrated the contrast between the DPP’s values and those of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
In one of her most important speeches, the DPP presidential candidate said the guidelines, which took two-and-a-half years to formulate and contain 18 chapters on a variety of issues, are a reflection of the party’s experiences and mistakes while in power.
“The guidelines are our commitment to the next generation and they are formulated with the aim of strengthening Taiwan and making it a coherent country,” Tsai said.
The guidelines are built around two core concepts: Taiwan has to put its best face forward internationally and fairness and justice have to be served, Tsai told a press conference with dozens of academics and former officials, who took part in more than 100 meetings about the guidelines with Tsai since June 2009, seated beside the podium.
Between 2002 — the year Taiwan joined the WTO — and this year, the nation has experienced almost a decade of major challenges amid rapid globalization, she said.
However, despite the work the DPP did between 2000 and 2008, issues such as income disparity, regional development, as well as economic and wage stagnation remained unresolved and have even grown worse during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) three years in office, she said.
“With its impromptu and rash policymaking, the Ma administration has been out of synch with society and has become a roadblock to Taiwan’s progress,” she said.
Tsai laid out six pillars for her overall national policy: an economy oriented toward employment, a society with fair distribution of resources, a secure and sustainable environment, a diverse and innovative education system and culture, a democracy deepened by public participation and, finally, a stable, multilateral peace strategy.
The 54-year-old expressed the view that the government should play an active role in national development.
For example, she called for publicly funded, large-scale urban regeneration projects, an increase in the market share of public universities and a state-funded care system for children and the elderly.
The policy guidelines — effectively her presidential policy platform — highlight the essential differences between the DPP and the KMT, she said.
While the KMT insists on a GDP-oriented, pro-corporation economy based on industrial development and an education system based on nationalism, the DPP intends to emphasize job creation and building the domestic economy, improving quality of life, industrial upgrades, good governance, making peace with nature and encouraging diversity, she said.
The differences in policies illustrate the drastically different values of the two parties, she said.
As for the DPP’s China policy, perhaps the most anticipated topic of the guidelines, Tsai said a multilayered and multifaceted exchange across the Taiwan Strait would be welcomed, adding that cross-strait trade should be one part of the nation’s global economic engagement as Taipei seeks to sign free-trade agreements with the US, Japan, the EU and ASEAN members, as well as ensure the benefits of cross-strait trade are shared equally with the public.
More details on her China policy will be discussed today, when Tsai hosts the last presentation of the guidelines before they are sent to the DPP Central Executive Committee for approval tomorrow.
“I was always told that no one paid attention to policies in Taiwanese elections. However, experiences from the past years tell me otherwise,” she said.
She said she hoped everyone would take the policies seriously, rather than engaging in another round of rhetorical battle.
“Taiwan has been idle for three years. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” she said.