President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reached out to the nation’s taxi drivers during a campaign rally where he outlined a proposal to help them replace old cabs with new ones.
Ma, who is seeking re-election next month, promised about 600 taxi drivers during a rally near Ketagalan Boulevard that under the plan, each cab driver would receive a subsidy of NT$30,000 when he or she replaces an old, rundown taxi with a new vehicle.
Ma said that 28 percent of the nation’s 86,000 taxicabs have been in service for more than 10 years and the average age is 7.8 years.
“It is hoped that under the replacement plan, the average age of cabs would fall from the current 7.8 years, to five years by 2015,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chen Teng (陳燈), head of a nationwide taxi drivers’ alliance for Ma and his running mate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), said more than 1,000 taxi drivers and their cabs from Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), Hsinchu City, Greater Taichung and Greater Tainan had originally planned to attend the rally.
However, the number was cut to 600 after it was decided that the large number of cabs would tie up traffic near the Presidential Office, Chen said, leading the Taipei Police Department to request that fewer vehicles attend the rally.
Chen said the taxi drivers were attending the rally because Ma had done a good job in leading Taiwan and stabilizing the domestic economy amid endless global economic crises and downturns.
At a separate setting, Ma applauded the Judicial Yuan for promoting the adoption of the jury system, saying it would help ensure the credibility and dignity of the judicial establishment.
During an inaugural ceremony for the Ma-Wu Judicial Reforms Promotion Alliance, Ma said that although the independence of the judiciary had improved, public expectations and calls for measure to ensure a fully independent judiciary had also changed over the years.
“If the system does not pay attention to public opinions, these complaints will continue and it will harm the dignity and credibility of the judicial system,” Ma said.
Reforms have faced some unanticipated problems since he took office Ma said, including the prosecution of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), because that case in particular had caused confrontation between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party.
Ma said he had kept his promise to never interfere in individual cases, adding that he had also stopped the practice of illegal wire-tapping.
There was still room for improvement in the judiciary and the government’s current reforms are a first step, Ma said, adding that future reform would require gradual pressure to ensure implementation.
Protecting human rights was very important, Ma said, adding that everything should be done to ensure such injustices never reoccurred.
Ma pointed to the trial and subexecution of Chiang Kuo--ching (江國慶). Ma said such mistakes should be avoided in the future because the final trial would now be before the Supreme Court, adding that the Chiang case had made him all the more determined to stamp out the practice of torture.
In 1997, 21-year-old Chiang was executed for the rape and murder of a young girl in 1996. Following the emergence of evidence that Chiang was tortured into confessing the crime, he was exonerated in September.