Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday called for cooperation between the government and opposition parties to help transform and upgrade the country’s industrial structure and to forge closer and deeper economic integration with its trading partners, as well as the wider global economy.
After surviving the no-confidence vote that was supported by three opposition parties last Saturday, Chen yesterday managed to present his policy address to the legislature, which reconvened on Sept. 18 after the summer recess.
The 28-page written report was condensed into a brief speech that lasted less than four minutes due to a boycott by three Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers who demanded the resignation of Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) and Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥).
The trio chanted slogans and occupied the podium when Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) invited Chen to deliver his report, but they were soon outnumbered by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers.
Some KMT lawmakers forcibly pulled the trio away from the podium, while others went over to Chen’s seat to escort him to the platform.
Chen said in his speech that everyone’s efforts are needed to deal with the “severe economic situation” that is confronting Taiwan, and that if lawmakers fail to act in unison, “Taiwan would stumble into a major economic crisis.”
Chen appealed to lawmakers to “work with one accord” to push through 40 priority bills to help revive the economy.
The Democratic Progressive Party refrained from participating in the boycott, with caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) saying that the party would oversee the operation of the government in a rational, but strict manner.
During the question-and-answer session, Chen was repeatedly asked by lawmakers across party lines to promise that he would step down at the end of this year if the economy remained in the doldrums.
Chen made no such promise, but said he was sanguine about the country’s economic prospects.
On Thursday, the Council for Economic Planning and Development said its economic indicators flashed a “blue light” for Taiwan’s business performance last month — the 10th straight month in which the economy has remained at recessionary level and the second-longest blue-light period since 1984, when the composite economic indicators were implemented.
In response to a question from KMT Legislator Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛), Chen declined to predict when indicators might improve to “yellow-blue,” but said the economic indicator index would continue to rise.
Chen said his Cabinet was due to announce a set of measures next month designed to attract China-based Taiwanese businesspeople whose enterprises possess advanced, key technologies needed to bring investment capital back home.
The government’s plans to revitalize the economy encompassed short-term stimulus measures and medium and long-term strategies that address the root causes of the country’s current economic woes, he added.
“What I hope is that, in 10 years, we won’t have to talk about the same problems that we are talking about today,” Chen said.