Criticizing the government’s increase of fuel prices ahead of schedule, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷 ) of the Democratic Progressive Party said yesterday the new administration should protect the interests of the general public rather than forcing people to bear the brunt of short and long-term price increases.
“It was such a tragic and miserable sight to see all those people lining up at gas stations for two hours just to save around NT$100,” Hsieh told a press conference.
“Fuel and electricity prices hikes — people’s misery index jumps a trillion times,” he said.
The press conference was held by the shadow Cabinet, which was launched by Hsieh to monitor the new government, after he lost to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in the March 22 election.
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) announced two days ago that the price of unleaded gasoline would be raised by NT$3.90 per liter from midnight on Tuesday and the price of diesel would be raised by NT$4.40 per liter. The fuel price increase came earlier than the previously scheduled date of June 2.
The announcement came in the first week after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) led government took over from the DPP administration, which had frozen domestic fuel prices since December despite skyrocketing global oil prices, for fear of fueling inflationary pressures.
Describing the price hike as a “sneaky decision,” Hsieh said: “If Ma’s team knew before the election that oil prices had to be adjusted, it should not have been quiet on that and should not now blame everything on the former government.”
He said that it was Ma, on March 12, who asked the DPP administration to play the role of a “caretaker government” and to leave the price hike issue to the new government.
“My belief is that the government must take care of those who do not have the power to fight,” the former premier said. “It seems unfair to those who voted for President Ma that he appears to be taking a back seat and leaving the matter for his Cabinet to deal with.”
He contended that the government should give priority to solving the problems that people are facing in trying to make a living, before focusing on Taiwan’s economic issues.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the government’s decision-making process was “obscure.”
She said everyone, from the president to Cabinet members, had tried to manipulate public opinion by constantly saying that fuel prices would have to be raised and that the increase would not be small.