Historical factors to blame, not solely presidents, Ko says

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 3

The problems Taiwan faces today are the result of historical developments involving many people, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday in response to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) criticism of presidents past and present.

Ko was asked to comment on Han’s characterization of former presidents Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as well as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as overseeing a nation whose “economy and competitiveness were basically crippled,” despite all three graduating from National Taiwan University’s law department.

“Taiwan has been seriously fooling around for the past 20 years,” Han told the Global Monte Jade Forum in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Ko, who was attending the Dajia Matsu Pilgrimage in Taichung, told reporters that the nation’s situation could not be blamed on the three, because it is the result of accumulated historical “glitches” that everyone shares responsibility for.

It is not accurate to say that Taiwan did not make progress in the past 20 years, despite massive advances in South Korea and Singapore, Ko said.

When asked if presidents should have a background in law, Ko said that many US presidents did.

Asked whether he would feel helpless without a party’s or organization’s backing were he to contest next year’s presidential election, Ko said he survived the last year’s Taipei mayoral election, despite attacks from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which indicates that with the power of the people, it is possible to bring change.

Separately, Tsai wrote on Facebook on Sunday that “boosting economic growth is never achieved by shouting slogans.”

“If shouting slogans earned people money, everyone would do it,” Tsai wrote, although she did not mention Han.

Tsai touted statistics that she said showed the government’s achievement in attracting investment and creating job opportunities.

“We will not neglect the nation’s sovereignty just because we are working to boost economic growth,” she added.

DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) on Sunday said that criticizing former administrations would not help Han to achieve campaign promises.

The KMT is to blame for crippling the economy, with average economic growth during the Ma administration being 2.8 percent, lower than the 4.8 percent during Chen Shui-bian’s administration, Chen Chih-chung said.

Ma’s office said that during his eight years in office, there was the global financial crisis of 2008 and the European debt crisis of 2009, but his administration signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China.

The DPP was to blame for obstructing economic growth by boycotting the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, the office said.