Equality for all is imperative
This year will soon be over. Last Monday at the Taipei Cross-Strait CEO Summit, the founder and chairman of China’s leading e-commerce company Alibaba, Jack Ma (馬雲), pointed to the pervasive generation gap plaguing Taiwan’s private sector.
Ma raised several interesting questions: Why do beginning salaries for the younger generation still start at NT$22,000? Why has the number of foreign workers surged from 300,000 to 500,000? Why do Taiwanese entrepreneurs run away every time financial and economic policies change? Why do so many well-known companies emit pollution? Why are products intended for industrial use added to food products?
The summit is merely an extension of the Purple Mountain Forum organized by former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) as a club for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party. It does not represent Taiwanese public opinion. Ma’s questions were directed at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). All these economic difficulties are tied to Ma Ying-jeou’s failed 6-3-3 election promise.
Ma Ying-jeou’s poor economic policy is locking the nation into China’s market and welcomes China to take over Taiwan’s market. Ma Ying-jeou even welcomes greedy businesspeople such as the Wei (魏) family of Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團) back to Taiwan to manipulate real estate and produce tainted cooking oils by taking unsecured loans from Taiwanese banks. The fundamental issue of the nation’s poor economy is connected to Ma Ying-jeou’s pro-China policies, which only benefit big business, but not the general public. That is why the rich get richer and the poor poorer in Taiwan.
Jack Ma’s speech not only criticized Ma Ying-jeou’s poor economic policy, it also attacked entrepreneurs such as Foxconn chief executive Terry Gou (郭台銘), HTC chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) for not giving enough opportunities to younger generations. Foxconn has more than 1 million employees around the world, but only 6,000 in Taiwan. HTC entered China’s market in July 2010 and pulled out from Brazil, North Carolina in the US and South Korea in June 2012.
Taiwan’s current GDP at purchasing power parity per capita is US$41,539, ranking 22nd in the world, and China’s is US$11,868, ranking 89th. In the real world, Taiwan’s economy is still much better than China’s.
This year has seen upheavals in both Taiwan and China. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has punished corrupt officials in China, and voters struck out at the KMT’s candidates in Taiwan’s recent elections. China remains an old-fashioned society of strongman politics, while Taiwan is becoming a democratic society. In China, people question where and how Xi gained his power.
Although Taiwan still has a long way to go before becoming stable overall, it is much better than China.
How can Taiwan get on the right track to improve its economy? The most important thing is to build a fair society.
First, equality before the law: Former Cabinet secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) should be jailed.
Second, equality of social welfare: The 18 percent interest rate should be terminated.
Third, equality of housing rights: Affordable housing should be provided for the young.
Fourth, equal job opportunities: Hire by meritocracy and not based on ethnic provincialism.
We need a society of liberty and justice for all.
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