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Taiwan could be nearing 'Greek fiscal crisis', opposition leader warns

Publication Date : 08-01-2013


Taiwan may be nearing a graver version of the Greek fiscal crisis, said former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen yesterday.

Yesterday the former chairwoman called again for Ma to hold a national affairs conference. She named two priority problems: unsustainable annuity programmes and Taiwan's overall fiscal situation.

Fiscally, Taiwan is headed for its own version of the Greek economic crisis, she said.

The national debt has exceed NT$6 trillion (US$207 billion), while Taiwan's implicit national debt for the next 10 years is forecast at NT$15 trillion (US$516 billion). Therefore Taiwan's public debt hits 1.5 times its GDP — a situation comparable to the Greek fiscal crisis. Some data indicate that Taiwan is nearing a situation that's even worse, she added.

Now is the best window of opportunity for Ma to open a national affairs conference and spark the required “comprehensive reform”, as a second-term president no longer faces election pressures, Tsai said on a Chinese-language radio programme yesterday.

Always ready

Major political figures must always be prepared to become presidential candidates, though the final choice lies with the people, according to Tsai.

When picking sides in the 2016 presidential election, the question to ask is if the political party has a strong ambition to transform itself, and whether the candidate has strong willpower, Tsai told Cheng Hung-yi, host of the local radio show on FM98.5.

Major political figures should always be prepared to become an option for society. But the real choice lies with the people. “If the politician has just his will, and no social support, then he or she is not an option for the people,” she said.

Asked to name the decisive factor that cost the DPP the 2012 presidential election, Tsai said it was the state machinery and government resources that the Kuomintang (KMT) applied to their advantage.

Taiwan society has not moved past the mindset of the authoritarian era. When choosing a leader, society still tends to lean conservative and to permit the incumbent into a second term, she said.

On China

Tsai cited the so-called “China factor” as a second decisive variable.

Asked what she would say to Chinese leader Xi Jinping if the opportunity arose, Tsai said she would stress that Taiwan is a democratic society that wants diversity.

“If you exert political, economic pressure to block in the Taiwan people, to restrict the options in Taiwan's future — you might be successful initially, but ultimately the Taiwan people will lash back, which will not be good for the cross-strait relationship,” she said.

Asked if she would accept an invitation to China on behalf of the DPP, Tsai responded that she does not currently hold a party position and therefore cannot represent the DPP.

But if there is to be “cross-strait interaction,” then there should be sincere, heartfelt and natural cross-strait interaction — not too many political duties and formal acts, she said.

“If a trip to China is beneficial for Taiwan and for the DPP, I would consider it. If it is not, of course I would not visit China for the sake of visiting China,” she added.


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