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Taiwan president vows action in National Day address

Publication Date : 11-10-2012


Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou struck a concilliatory tone yesterday in his National Day address, which pledged concrete government responses to public criticism.

“Some of our government's policies have received criticism from the public. This has at times been dire,” Ma said yesterday at the annual National Day ceremony at Ketagalan Boulevard.

“We have listened very attentively to these criticisms. We have taken a close look at our performance and sought to make improvements. Our response will come in the form of concrete action.”

His half-hour speech, delivered yesterday morning under a light drizzle, could be a sign of how far Ma has plummeted in the polls in recent months. By contrast, the president's National Day speech a year ago praised Taiwan for its “limitless vistas” and “freedom, democracy and affluence.”

Yesterday, Ma said that the government will act in concrete ways on four high-priority problems: limited job opportunities, issues of territorial sovereignty, cross-strait relations and stagnant salary levels.

“Although Taiwan's economy has grown over the past dozen years, many people have seen their salaries remain stagnant, and they are naturally unhappy about it,” he said.

“In order to resolve this difficult situation, our industry must move toward higher value-added development; only then will labour productivity increase and salary levels rise.”

Ma also promised specific actions to bolster job opportunities, such as relaxing investment restrictions to allow in more foreign companies and boosting the new tourism industry.

In addition, Ma spoke on strategies for improving cross-strait relations and peacefully defending Taiwan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutais.

Ma took pains to remind the crowd that he has already reached some key targets.

“Taiwan recently placed fourth in an international research organisation's global rankings of the best investment climates in the world, but the government will continue striving to clear investment obstacles,” he said.

Likewise, cross-strait developments have already made progress in the form of 18 agreements and two “points of consensus” signed with the mainland in the past four years.

Ma highlighted other new steps forward such as Taiwan's inclusion into the US Visa Waiver Programme on October 2, and Lien Chan's positive interactions with Hu Jintao at September's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Russia. Lien had told Hu that Taiwan's people hope to meaningfully take part in international organisations.

“He met a positive response,” said Ma, adding that the incident augurs more favourable developments in the future.

The address was titled “Forging Ahead Together with Composure in the Face of Adversity.”

Neither Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang nor former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen attended the ceremony.

Present were Premier Sean Chen, other government officials, invited guests of the Taiwan public and Marshall Islands President Christopher J. Loeak, whose flag was displayed along the boulevard.

Later at 7 pm, some 1.5 million people watched the National Day fireworks show at Houlong, Miaoli County, near the planned High Speed Rail Miaoli Station. A total of 87,641 bursts of fireworks were fired into the air during the 40-minute-long event.


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