Mon, Oct 10, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Lesser-known candidates take questions

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Five of the six pairs of independents and minor party presidential hopefuls urged young people to participate in national politics as they answered questions from first-time voters at a forum held by the First-time Policy Observation Group in Taipei yesterday.

The group was created in August by nearly 30 university students, mostly student association presidents, to ask presidential candidates to respond to young people’s political concerns.

At the event, the group listed seven policies they would like to see implemented: changing the mechanism for student loans; improving the management of schools; facilitating cooperation between schools and industry; working toward reasonable and fair tuition; providing better employment opportunities; ensuring reasonable and affordable housing; and working toward a sustainable natural environment.

“To secure affordable housing prices so that young people can afford to start a family is the most important issue,” said Independent Lee Hsing-chang (李幸長), founder of the Snails Without Shells Alliance.

Lee said students who came to Taipei to study and make a living used to be able to afford a down payment on an apartment after working a few years, but with today’s high housing prices, young people might have to be in debt all their lives to afford an ordinary apartment.

People United Party Chairperson Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑) said she was most concerned with educational issues.

“I feel heartbroken because the government is too incompetent to respond to your demands,” she said.

“There should be a mechanism of inspecting the efficacy of schools,” she said, adding that “only when education is successful can the young people be responsible for their positions in the society.”

Taiwanese National Party’s Chuang Mung-hsieh (莊孟學) said the debt from student loans was just the tip of the iceberg, with the more serious problem of national debt lurking beneath the surface

“The government should solve the national debt and student loan issues by splitting state-owned enterprises’ stocks with the people, instead of using the people’s tax money to run these businesses, but only sharing the revenues with a few shareholders,” Chuang said.

Independent Lin Ching-ying’s (林金瑛) running mate, Shih Hsiang-ching (石翊靖), said the biggest problem facing the country was “fake democracy” and having “too many political party slaves.”

He said he ran for city council member in his thirties because he could not get councilors to respond to his questions and that young people who want to solve policy problems should take action and be involved with politics.

Independent Kao Kuo-ching (高國慶) said enacting a “basic law” was most important, as policies change when government official change, but institutional rules and regulations are persistent.

The candidates all urged young people to participate in politics.

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