Students should pursue their interests instead of wealth, as wage stagnation cannot not be solved in the short term, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said on Saturday, sparking a backlash on social media with the Executive Yuan making a late-night statement defending the premier’s statement.
During a visit to Tainan to inspect the construction of a “green” energy park in Shalun (沙崙), Lin said that wage stagnation has caused a brain drain, but there is no short-term solution to stalled wages.
The brain drain is the most pressing issue the nation is facing and it is caused by low salaries, but low salaries also mean low consumer prices, which can be a positive for attracting talent, Lin said.
What the government has to do is create a healthy business environment and encourage students to pursue their interests instead of fame and wealth, Lin said, adding that the park could be such an environment.
Critics accused the premier of justifying the working conditions that have caused wages to stagnate, and said that Lin — an established politician with financial resources — was detached from society if he suggests prioritizing the pursuit of interests over making ends meet.
In a statement, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Lin’s comments were taken out of context, and what Lin meant was that he wishes the energy park would be a healthy environment for young people to seek achievements and to facilitate collaboration between local and international talents.
“Low salaries have caused the nation to lose its workforce, but with low salaries come low consumer prices, and it is a tremendous challenge to raise salaries without also increasing prices,” Hsu said.
“The nation’s purchasing power parity-based GDP ranks No. 10 in the world. Although we do not have short-term solutions to wage stagnation, we have to deal with the brain drain issue immediately,” Hsu said. “Although workers receive lower salaries, the work environment leaves room for achievement, prosperity and entrepreneurship. It is an environment where people can pursue their dreams. Hence, students are encouraged to pursue their interests rather than wealth.”
Fame and wealth would come along if people could find achievement in their jobs, he added.
To fight wage stagnation, he said the government would redouble its efforts to build infrastructure and revive the economy to create a work environment that pays higher wages.
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