Activists from the Anti-Poverty Alliance, which comprises 13 civic groups, held a press conference at the legislature in Taipei yesterday urging legislators to address the problem of the widening disparity between rich and poor in Taiwan.
They also announced plans for two 44-hour hunger strikes that will begin on Sunday.
Anti-Poverty Alliance representative Chien Hsi-chieh , a former Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker, said the gap between rich and poor is expanding in Taiwan, just like in the US and Europe.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Taiwan’s economic growth rate last year was 10.8 percent and labor productivity increased by 16 percent, but wages decreased by 11 percent, the alliance said.
It said the total income of employees accounted for only 44 percent of GDP, which was lower than in many other countries.
Twenty-five people from Taiwan were listed on Forbes’ latest list of the world’s richest people, and the wealth of the top 10 richest people in the nation has increased from US$30 billion to US$40.7 billion, Chien said.
However, there are about 1.04 million workers in Taiwan who receive less than NT$20,000 per month, he added.
He also questioned why the government gave preferential treatment, such as a sales tax exemption, to banks but not to other sectors, and said mounting frustration over the plight of the average wage earner would express itself as it had in recent weeks on Wall Street.
“Occupy Wall Street is not a single incident, but is spreading around the world,” Chien said.
Chien said the alliance would hold two “44-Hour Famine” hunger strikes to raise awareness about the unfair distribution of wealth in the country, with workers not receiving their deserved share.
The hunger strikes will take place in front of the legislature. The first will run from Sunday to Tuesday and the second will run from Tuesday to Thursday.
The groups will also protest against the government giving tax relief to enterprises when the working poor are becoming poorer, and they want to experience poverty through fasting.
Chen Fang-yu (陳方隅), a representative from a group called “Young people want to be rich,” said that about one-fourth of young people in their 20s work as dispatch workers or as hourly wage workers, often with low incomes, long working hours and no welfare benefits.
He said with incomes so low and housing prices high, “who still wants to get married and have children?”
Lin Yung-sung (林永頌), an attorney who advises victims of credit card debt, said some workers are only paid about NT$20,000 per month and had to pay between NT$4,000 and NT$5,000 per month to labor dispatch agencies.
Lin said that as many as 1.04 million Taiwanese — or 15 percent of the working population — earn less than NT$20,000 a month.
That means there are 220,000 more people in that income group than in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, Lin said.
The alliance said unemployment and low incomes were the roots of poverty and called on legislators to amend the Statute For Consumer Debt Clearance (消費者債務清理條例), regulations on student loans and the Housing Act (住宅法) during the current legislative session.
The alliance also voiced support for the “Occupy Taipei” rally that is scheduled for Saturday outside Taipei 101.
Additional reporting by CNA
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would