President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday outlined his policy vision to achieve social justice and a clean government as part of his goal of a “golden decade” of national development.
In a 15-minute presentation during a press conference at the Presidential Office, Ma said the widening wealth gap was a major problem that required immediate attention.
A society in which there is equal distribution of wealth and everyone has access to medical care, employment and housing was integral to his goal, Ma said.
To achieve these goals, the government needs to cease short-term speculation in the market, provide more affordable housing, revise the tax code and perfect its social welfare policies, said Ma, who is seeking re-election in January.
He said the reforms his administration have carried out, such as the introduction of a luxury tax and transparency in real-estate trading, were not aimed at punishing the rich, but rather to help narrow the wealth gap and bring greater prosperity to the country as a whole.
On the issue of healthcare, the president said the smoking rate and number of deaths from traffic accidents needed to be lowered and that adults had to exercise more.
Since the nation is an aging society, Ma said the government would launch a series of campaigns to raise the number of births a year to 180,000 by 2022.
On human rights, he said in February the government would publish an annual human rights report based on the UN’s standards because Taiwan has signed on to the two UN human rights covenants.
It would be the first time the nation will present a national human rights report, Ma said.
Asked whether he would consider formal discussions about the abolition of the death penalty next year, Ma said numerous public hearings have already been held on the matter.
Saying that the abolition of capital punishment has become a global trend, Ma added that public opinion would have to be part of any decision on the matter.
Asked about a promise to donate half his presidential salary if he failed to meet his “6-3-3” campaign promise made in 2008, Ma said: “It has been my habit for many years,” adding that he had been making charitable donations every month he has been in office.
The 6-3-3 pledge refers to Ma’s campaign promise of achieving annual GDP growth of 6 percent, an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent by next year and per capita income of US$30,000 by 2016.
“What is really important is how to implement [the policies] and not simply trying to avoid responsibility by making a donation,” Ma said.
Data provided by the Presidential Office show that in the three years and four months since Ma assumed the presidency, he has donated a total of NT$2 million (US$65,440) to charities.
Ma said last year’s economic growth was 10.88 percent and 9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.
“We achieved our goals for one-and-a-half of the past three years,” Ma said.
Six percent growth is not impossible, but the crisis in the eurozone and the US will make that difficult, he said.
Ma said the nation could reach a per capita income of US$20,000 this year.
As for lowering unemployment to 3 percent or under, Ma said: “This is something we have not done,” adding that the global financial crisis in 2008 hampered those efforts.
However, Ma said in comparison with the first three years after former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took office, “unemployment rose more [under Chen] than it did under me.”
Later in the day, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held a press conference to comment on Ma’s policy vision.
“It’s ironic for Ma to talk about social justice, because justice has not been served during his term in office,” DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) hammered Ma on the “fundamentals of social justice” — taxation and housing prices.
While the average salary of workers continued to decline, the ratio of national tax revenues coming from workers shot up to 75.02 percent from 72.31 percent three years ago, Lee said.
Lee also said that more than 60 percent of workers paid more tax last year than three years ago.
The housing price-annual income ratio in northern Taiwan went up from a ratio of 10 three years ago, to 16.2 last year, he said, which shows that young people and workers are shouldering a heavier burden.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang
Translation by Jake Chung
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations