MA YING-JEOU — THREE YEARS: Civic groups call on Ma to keep election promises

Staff Writer, with CNA

Fri, May 20, 2011 - Page 4

On the eve of the third anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration, civic groups called on him to keep his campaign promises, claiming that the public was disappointed about the unemployment rate, high housing prices and long working hours.

Protesters gathered in front of the Taipei Guest House to perform a skit claiming that the 16 “prescriptions” that Ma has given to the country during his term so far have failed.

Taiwan has weathered the worst income disparity, stagnant unemployment, a global financial storm and a local economic downturn since Ma took office, said Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labor Front, one of the 13 main organizers of the protest.

He cited an online survey initiated by 13 civic groups in March that asked Internet users to vote on what it called a “Taiwan Ma Government Exposition” Web site and examine which campaign promises Ma has failed to deliver on. It received about 10,000 responses.

Ma promised during his election campaign that he would lower the unemployment rate to less than 3 percent by next year, produce a “complete housing” proposal and reduce working hours and these were the campaign promises that most of the respondents felt have not been met, Son said.

“If the government cannot carry out its promises, we will have to use our ballots to express our anger,” he said in reference to next January’s presidential and legislative elections.

The majority of the online voters also felt disappointed about gender equality education, Aboriginal policies and measures to boost the birth rate under Ma’s leadership, Son said.

According to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, the unemployment rate gradually rose from the second half of 2008, following the global financial downturn.

The figure reached a peak of 6.13 percent in August 2009, but although the global economy slowly picked up, the unemployment rate stood at 4.48 percent as of March, the agency said.

Responding to a call to narrow the wealth gap and curb real estate speculation, the government will impose a 15 percent luxury tax from June 1 on properties sold within one year of purchase and a 10 percent tax on properties sold within the second year of purchase.

In addition, a 10 percent tax will be levied on certain luxury goods under the law. Taxable items include cars, yachts, airplanes, helicopters and ultralight planes that cost more than NT$3 million (US$105,000).