Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Legislators slam Cabinet over holiday decision

GRANDSTANDING? Pan-blue lawmakers accused the government of playing politics in setting the schedule for national holidays and memorials

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Organic Laws and Statutes Committee lambasted the administration yesterday for designating holidays and memorial days based on political ideology and ignoring public interest.

The criticism follows the Executive Yuan's decision on Monday to designate Oct. 24 as "Taiwan United Nations Day."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進), who chaired the committee's meeting yesterday, challenged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to designate Oct. 24 as the "Republic of Taiwan United Nations Day."

KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) proposed to replace Feb. 28 Peace Memorial Day with Aug. 23 to commemorate the lives lost in the Aug. 23, 1958 battle of Kinmen.

"The government simply decides the memorial days and holidays based on political ideology," Lu said. "There are no set rules whatever but the interest of the minority."

The committee had invited government agencies to report the impact of the government's holiday policy on the economy and leisure industry, including the interior and economic affairs ministries and Central Personnel Administration.

Central Personnel Administration Minister Chou Hung-hsien (周弘憲) said that civil servants will have 112 days off next year, including 10 national holidays.

Memorial days that are national holidays are the Founding Day of the Republic of China on Jan. 1, Peace Memorial Day on Feb. 28 and the Double Ten National Day on Oct. 10.

Festivals from the lunar calendar that are national holidays are Feb. 6 -- Lunar New Year's eve -- the Lunar New Year holidays from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9, Tomb-Sweeping Day on April 4, Dragon Boat Festival on June 8 and the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sept. 14.

Chou said 10 national holidays a year are not too many, compared to Japan's 15 and 10 in the US. South Korea will have 15 national holidays next year, while Germany and France each have 10 and the UK eight, he said.

Small and Medium Enterprise Administration Director-General Lai Sun-quae (賴杉桂) said that while long holidays have a positive effect on business activities, they should not last too long or they will affect the economy and international competitiveness.

If the government wants to extend national holidays to allow for long weekends they must do so ahead of time so the public will have time to make plans, he said.

The Ministry of the Interior had just proposed adding a Taiwan UN Day to the list of 18 memorial days that are observed but are not a public holiday last Friday.

KMT Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) said that she was amazed by the administration's efficiency.

Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said that the government was simply responding to a request from the Alliance for Taiwan's UN Membership Campaign.

KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) criticized the administration for wasting money. As the administration is planning to hold a torch relay on Oct. 24 to urge public support for UN bid, Hsu said that the designation of the Taiwan United Nations Day is nothing but a DPP election gambit.

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