On Wednesday last week, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) nominated New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) as its candidate for next year’s presidential election.
In his speech, Hou repeatedly called for “another power transfer” without elaborating on what changes he and the KMT would bring to Taiwan if the party were to win. His call was nothing but a campaign slogan.
Based on the focus of discussion of pro-blue media and key opinion leaders over the past few years, there are at least three things that Hou should answer clearly and definitively as the KMT’s presidential candidate.
First, would he restart the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮)?
As the mayor, Hou has postponed the construction of dry storage facilities for the Second Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Wanli District (萬里). As a result, there is not enough storage space for spent fuel rods at the plant.
He has also said numerous times that “without nuclear safety, there would be no nuclear energy.” Now, in the face of many pro-blue supporters and business groups’ calls to increase deployment of nuclear energy, he has the responsibility to explain what role nuclear power would play in his energy policy, and where nuclear waste would go.
Next, would he reverse the pension reforms for military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers?
Faced with a potential financial crisis, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration dealt with this “hot potato” that it inherited from former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, thus angering many of the these public servants and even their family members with the pension reductions.
Once a power transfer takes place, is Hou going to reverse the pension reform, or even retrospectively repay those whose pensions were cut? Many retirees are surely waiting for an answer from the mayor.
Last, would he maintain the current short-term military service?
In response to the growing military threat from the Chinese Communist Party, the Tsai administration announced at the end of last year that mandatory military service would from next year be extended from four months to one year. While the extension is good for national security and can reinforce allies’ confidence in Taiwan, it has become an excuse for critics to attack the Tsai administration and become a weapon for them to sensationalize the risks of a war.
The extension would also have an impact on conscripts’ career plans and deployment of massive national resources. However, it is representative of the government’s attitude in the face of Beijing’s military threats.
As a potential commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces, Hou should clarify whether he would make a U-turn on mandatory military service if he takes over the reins of government.
If Hou is not planning to restart the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, cancel pension reforms and support the extension of military service, is there a need for a power transfer?
Huang Wei-ping is a former think tank researcher and a Kaohsiung resident.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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