Tue, Jul 29, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Poll says Chen behind reform mess

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nearly 40 percent of the public believes President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is responsible for the problems caused by the government' s educational reforms, a KMT poll revealed yesterday.

The poll was conducted by the Taiwan Real Survey Co for the KMT. It phone-interviewed 1,080 people between July 22 and July 24 about their opinions on the government' s educational reforms and the DPP's campaign pledges.

The row over which party should take responsibility for the mismanaged educational reforms and the DPP's campaign pledges to Hualien ahead of the county's commissioner election has prompted the KMT to launch the poll.

The KMT has accused the government of ruining educational reform. But "some people believe KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) should share the responsibility because the reform plan was made when he was the premier," said a KMT lawmaker.

KMT Legislator Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said the poll showed that while 39.7 percent of interviewees said the president is responsible for the reform mess, only 20.6 percent of them believed Lien should shoulder the responsibility.

About 10 percent said both men are responsible for the failure of the reforms.

One of the most hotly debated issues about the education reforms is the problem of high tuition fees, Huang said.

To address the problem, the government has suggested either demanding lower tuition fees from public and private schools or expanding its programs to offer students bursaries and interest-free loans, Huang said.

The poll showed 56.8 percent of the interviewees would prefer the government demanded both public and private schools cut tuition fees.

Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) said the government has to spend NT$170 billion to support campaign pledges the DPP made to Hualien.

Cho questioned the DPP' s use of government resources to win the Hualien County commissioner election and asked why the government has suddenly promised so many construction projects for the backwater county.

"If the government really cares about Hualien, it has to keep its promises whether You Ying-lung (游盈隆), the DPP candidate for the election, wins or not," Huang said.

Cho expressed concern the government is running into deeper debt by making campaign pledges.

The poll showed 63.5 percent of the interviewees regarded campaign pledges as detrimental to the development of the country because they are not carefully planned.

According to the poll, 47.5 percent of the people interviewed said the government's motive to budget NT$30 billion to pay retired teachers' pensions is to draw more votes for next year's presidential election.

In the past, the Ministry of Education was reluctant to grant teachers' retirement applications, which shot up after the implementation of the educational reform, said KMT Legislator Lo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄).

"A senior education official once said granting a teacher's retirement application means the government has to pay the teacher a monthly pension for the rest of his or her life," Lo said.

Apart from paying the pension, the government has to hire a new teacher to fill the vacancy, Lo added.

However, as the presidential election approaches, the government is now willing to set aside NT$30 billion to pay retired teachers' pensions.

"The move has obviously been taken to win more votes," Lo said.

More than 55 percent of the interviewees said the DPP' s ambition to win next year' s presidential election also prompted it to prepare to up elderly people's monthly pensions from NT$3,000 to NT$4,000 starting Jan. 1 next year.

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