Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday rebutted a media report which said he had criticized a Control Yuan investigation into the reasons behind the nation’s high divorce rate as “nonsense,” but added that there is not much the government can do to help reduce the number of divorces.
“I did not call the Control Yuan probe ‘nonsense,’ that’s not language I would use,” Lee told reporters at the ministry.
“In fact, as the head of a ministry, I fully respect the Control Yuan’s probe and as soon as I received an invitation from the Control Yuan for an interview on the issue about two weeks ago, I immediately appointed an official to prepare relevant information and attend the interview on my behalf, since I was busy preparing for an approaching typhoon,” he said.
Lee was responding to a story printed in yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily on a probe launched by the Control Yuan to investigate the political responsibilities of relevant government institutions — including the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Education — in dealing with the rising divorce rate.
The report quoted Lee as saying that he had turned down the invitation for an interview, because the divorce rate “has nothing to do with national policy,” while also calling the probe “nonsense.”
Although denying that he had boycotted the probe, Lee expressed his personal view that the divorce situation is not something that the government could rectify.
“High divorce rates exist in most developed countries and the high percentage of immigrant spouses in Taiwan could add to the issue, since it may not be easy for them to adjust to the culture and the environment,” Lee said. “If anyone expects the government to come up with a fast solution to the issue, I would say it’s next to impossible.”
The only thing that the interior ministry may be able to do, Lee said, is to help immigrant spouses integrate better into mainstream society and help them solve some domestic conflicts through welfare measures or education.
According to official figures, 600,000 couples — or 1.2 million people — have divorced in the past 10 years. Furthermore, Taiwan is the country with the third-highest divorce rate in the world, with a gross divorce rate of 2.41 percent.