A “second democratic reform,” which focuses on decentralization, privatization of state enterprises and promoting civil political participation is necessary to address the country’s economic woes and stalled political reform, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday.
Lee, who helped orchestrate Taiwan’s democratization in the early 1990s, later described as the “silent revolution,” said it was time for Taiwan to take another giant step forward to lift the country out of the mire.
“The effort would have to begin from enforcing local autonomy, improving government efficiency and promoting the development of civil society,” said Lee, who celebrates his 91st birthday today.
Lee, who was president from 1988 to 2000, publicized a 10-point recommendation yesterday that summed up the conclusion of seminars organized by his foundation last year on the nation’s economy and local autonomy.
Decentralization was one of the main themes in the recommendation, as Lee called for the central government to empower local governments with more authority on personnel, education and finance because, judging from current government efficiency and national finance, the central government would not be capable of dealing with various tasks in a diverse society.
Lee proposed the establishment of an independent committee to research the feasibility of relocating the capital from Taipei to address the increasingly imbalanced regional development and population concentrations.
To boost local industrial development, Lee said the government should promote regional development, adding that a mechanism of employment referrals out from Taipei should be established to encourage young people work in and help develop their hometowns.
Another primary aspect of Lee’s recommendation was privatization of state-owned enterprises, such as Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and CPC Corp, Taiwan, revitalization of fallow land and release of state-owned property.
Privatization of those enterprises would bring in much-needed competition and eventually allow regional private operators to provide better services and infrastructure in sectors such as fuel and electricity, he said.
In response to media enquiries about the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) prospect in the upcoming seven-in-one municipal elections in December and the presidential election in 2016, the former president said a “selfless leader” would be crucial for the party’s success.
The main reason behind the loss of former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文), whom Lee endorsed in the presidential election in 2012, was “not necessarily” because of her weak China policy, Lee said.
“I would say the lack of cooperation and solidarity in the party was why she had lost the election,” he said.