Four More Years: Taiwan Must Move Forward
Four More Years: Taiwan Must Move Forward
President Ma Ying-jeou
An address delivered at the 18th National Congress of the KMT
July 2, 2011
Vice President Siew, Honorary Chairman Wu, Distinguished senior members, fellow citizens across the nation: Good morning! How are you!
Today our party has nominated myself and comrade Dun Yi as its presidential and vice presidential candidates in the Republic of China's 13th presidential election. We feel grateful, and we also feel a heavy burden of responsibility.
First of all, I would like to thank Vice President Siew. As we all know, Smiling Siew is my mentor for fiscal and economic policy. He intends to retire. But privately he has assured me that he will make frequent trips to central and southern Taiwan. He wants to help the party and me win this election. When I heard that, I was deeply moved! Let's give him a big hand and thank him!
I would also like to thank Honorary Chairman Lien. Ten years ago, the KMT was going through its most difficult moment. He ensured the party's survival. In 2005, he embarked on an ice-breaking Journey of Peace to the Mainland. He blazed the way for a new era of cross-Strait relations. Let's give Chairman Lien a big hand. Let's pay tribute to him, and show him our gratitude!
I also want to thank Honorary Chairman Wu. Three years ago, he stepped up during a time of crisis, and led our party to victory. He helped me find my current job. Brother Hsiung, I am afraid you may need to come forward yet again next year, to help our party remain in office, and to make sure I have the opportunity to keep serving you. Am I right?
I also want to thank Legislative Yuan President Wang. Without his leadership in the Legislative Yuan, many of our epoch-making reforms would have been impossible. I sincerely hope, we all hope, that he will continue leading in the Legislative Yuan. Let's join hands and work together in our common struggle!
Today, there are simply too many distinguished senior members, compatriots, and friends, that I want to thank! On the one hand, I am thanking all of you. On the other hand, I am begging you. Over the next six months, we will be forced to fight a tough battle. I will fight by your side, shoulder to shoulder, in pursuit of victory. The next four years will make Taiwan even better.
People's Feelings and Expectations
Three years ago, 7.65 million voters supported the KMT's return to office. We feel indebted to them. I understand what the people want. The people want direction. The people want action. The people want progress. The people want change!
During the past three years, we did our utmost to meet the people's expectations. We have already brought about many changes. During the next four years, what additional changes will we bring about?
Clean and Transparent Government
First, we have been fighting corruption. We have established a clean government. Over the past three years, we did not discriminate between Blue and Green. Whenever we encountered a scandal, we investigated. Whenever we encountered corruption, we prosecuted. Certain officials from the previous administration suspected in corruption are before a judge as I speak. Others are already behind bars, including former President Chen. Last year, the Special Investigation Unit indicted seven High Court judges suspected of corruption. The court of the first instance imposed hefty sentences on three of them recently. More recently, procurement scandals have erupted in several hospitals under the Department of Health (DOH). Several hospital administrators have been taken into custody. These cases were uncovered by the internal government ethics unit on its own.
These prosecutions have sent a clear message. As long as Ma Ying-jeou is President, he will not tolerate corruption!
Recently, we amended the Anti-Corruption Statute. We amended the clause on "bribery that does not violate a public functionary's official duties." Henceforth, if a public functionary accepts a bribe, both those who offered the bribe and those who accepted the bribe will be punished. This is the only way to curb the unhealthy custom of bribery. We also passed a Judges Act, which will oversee judges and prosecutors and eliminate the tiny minority of bad apples.
On the 20th of this month, an Independent Commission Against Corruption will be established under the Ministry of Justice. The public has been looking forward to such a commission for more than ten years. Now on our watch, it has finally become a reality. Now, along with prosecutorial and investigatorial agencies, our ICAC will form an iron triangle against corruption.
Distinguished senior members, fellow citizens. Isn't the government cleaner than when the DPP was in office?
This is not us boasting. This is the international community speaking. Take the battle against international money-laundering. The Republic of China (Taiwan) is now the only Asian Pacific nation that does not require evaluation. In the recently released Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s national ranking has risen from 39th place to 33rd place in two years.
Distinguished senior members, think about it. If we permit the DPP to return to power, will they really ensure clean government?
Just give me four more years, and we promise to turn the Republic of China government into a model of clean government for all of Asia. People from Taiwan will be able to walk tall, and walk proud in international society!
Dynamic Economic Growth
Secondly, over the past three years, we have reversed the decline in Taiwan's economy. We have restored its vitality. During the DPP's eight years in power, it padlocked the doors of the nation. The result was that businessmen from Taiwan and foreign investors moved out, never to return. Once we took office, we removed these shackles. We adopted an Open Door Policy. Taiwan's economy underwent a transformation. It changed from a stagnant pond into a babbling brook. Over 100 billion in capital has flowed back to Taiwan. Foreign investors are now prepared to invest over 100 billion more.
Last year, our economic growth rate rose to 10.88%, a 24-year high. We ranked second in Asia, and fourth in the world. Over the last six quarters, we experienced over 6% in growth. Consumer prices remained stable. In Asia we were second only to Japan, but ahead of the three other Asian tigers.
When the DPP was in office, the Republic of China's per capita GDP was only US$ 17,000 at its peak. This year it will exceed US$ 20,000. This is an important milestone in the Republic of China's economic development.
During the DPP's eight years in power, GDP increased a mere US$ 2,600. By contrast, once we came into office, it increased US$ 2,600, in three short years. I ask you, which political party knows how to develop the economy?
Between August 2009 and May 2011, our workforce increased by 385,000. Unemployment dropped from 6.13% to 4.27%. It is now the lowest in 33 months, and is still falling. Wage income has shown positive growth for 18 straight months.
Not only that, when the economy improves, employment rises, and the suicide rate drops. Last year, the number of suicides fell 517 from its peak in 2006, when the DPP was in power. For the first time in 14 years, suicide is no longer one of the top 10 causes of death for Republic of China citizens.
In May of this year, the Swiss-based IMD released its global competitiveness report. The Republic of China ranked sixth in the world, the highest ranking in recorded history. Over the past two years, the Republic of China has moved up 17 places, the fastest of any nation on the planet.
My fellow citizens, our economy has been revitalized. Just give us four more years, and I promise that our competitiveness will continue to increase, that our incomes will continue to rise, and our unemployment will continue to fall.
Social Justice and Dignity
Distinguished senior members, over the past three years, the KMT has been working hard caring for the socially disadvantaged. We are even more concerned about generational justice. When the Democratic Progressive Party was in the opposition, it sided with the socially disadvantaged. But the moment it was in power, it forgot all about them. Now once again, the DPP is masquerading as the champion of the downtrodden. It is accusing the KMT of ignoring the socially disadvantaged. Since that is their accusation, let us review our achievements while in office!
In April 2007, elderly farmers had fallen on hard times. I led the way and called for an increase in farm subsidies, from NT$ 5,000 to NT$ 6,000 monthly. KMT legislators introduced a bill. It was enacted and implemented in July. But the then ruling DPP Executive Yuan was against it. Then Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen is now the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential candidate. According to media reports, she opposed any increase in the farm subsidy. She even became agitated, and swore that she would engage in tax resistance if it was adopted. Does that sound like concern for farmers? Does that sound like concern for the disadvantaged?
The Citizen's Annuity had been talked about for years, but the bill passed when the DPP was in power was detrimental to farmers. Once we took office, we amended the law. We removed farm subsidies from the Citizen's Annuity program. That enabled the Citizen's Annuity to operate on schedule. Individuals, not covered by military insurance, civil service insurance, labor insurance, or farm insurance, would now receive coverage. This ensured the livelihood of 3.88 million elderly. We recently added a NT$ 17,000 lump sum subsidy for women's child birth, benefiting even more people in the future.
My fellow citizens, the KMT cares about labor rights. In the past, labor insurance lacked an annuity, it was a one-time payment. The amount was paltry, not enough for old age. If their investments failed, or if inflation occurred, working men and women would be in even more dire straits.
Not long after taking office, we overcame all sorts of difficulties. We adopted the Labor Insurance Annuity, enabling workers to receive benefits as long as they live, and receive more benefits if they stay in the system longer. We have ensured the basic livelihood of retired workers. We would like ask the DPP, why didn't you do this when you were in power?
The KMT is also concerned about the health of the elderly. Low-income or disabled elderly persons will now receive government subsidies for dentures. This will enable them to chew their food, and eat what they want. The maximum subsidy per person is NT$ 40,000. Approximately 13,000 people are benefited. The government is also promoting long-term care. Because to care for the elderly is to care for ourselves in the future.
We are also concerned about young people. Last year, we promoted a unified public and private high school tuition program. If a household's annual income is under NT$ 900,000, private high school and vocational school tuition will be the same as for public schools. An estimated 270,008 people are benefited. Private school students could save as much as NT$ 33,000 a year. Over three years, they could save as much as NT$ 100,000. This constitutes an historic change in private schooling.
We are also concerned about Aboriginal students. Beginning last year, high schoolers were made tuition-free. Approximately, 25,000 people are benefited.
Also, in September of this year, vocational school students from households with an annual income under NT$ 1.14 million will not be required to pay tuition. The number of beneficiaries may be as high as 490,000. Vocational school students could save up to NT$ 40,000 per person per year. Over three years, they could save NT$ 130,000. This amounts to a revolutionary change in vocational education. Its impact will be far-reaching. These tuition reforms are effective ways to care for disadvantaged students.
Last year, the government implemented free tuition for 5-year-old children of Aborigines and residents of outlying islands. In September of this year, this policy will apply to the nation as a whole. Young parents will gain relief from economic pressure. An estimated 260,000 young children across the nation will benefit. This is another historic reform in our nation's education.
Beginning on July 1 of this year, the revised Social Assistance Act goes into effect. We have raised the poverty line from NT$ 8,000/9,000, what it was when the DPP was in power, to NT$ 10,244. We have also relaxed the requirements for disadvantaged status. The number of beneficiaries will go up from 264,000 to 852,000, an increase of 580,000. This is the most direct and concrete way in which we are caring for the disadvantaged.
In June of this year, we began levying a luxury tax on short-term real estate speculation in an effort to narrow the gap between rich and poor. We ask the DPP, what did they do while they were in power? Did they really care for the socially disadvantaged?
Consider social welfare measures. Over the past three years, we have done more than the ruling Democratic Progressive Party during its entire eight years in power. We did more. We did it better. But, of course, not as much as we wanted to do.
If our fellow citizens will give us four more years, I promise to promote even more social welfare programs to help even more of the socially disadvantaged.
Cross-Strait Peace and Prosperity
Distinguished senior members, over the past three years we have accomplished yet another major task. We have transformed the Taiwan Strait from a danger zone into a peace corridor.
Over the past three years, we have improved cross-Strait relations and created an unprecedented environment of peace under the constitutional framework of the Republic of China with the "1992 Consensus/One China, Different Interpretations" as our foundation, and adhering to the principles of "parity, dignity, and reciprocity" and "all for Taiwan, all for the people."
Over the past three years, the two sides have signed 15 agreements, including a cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). We have established cross-Strait direct flights. We have enabled Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan. We have implemented joint crime-fighting initiatives. We have facilitated more orderly cross-Strait exchanges. Our people's rights are more secure, and our businesses are more competitive.
DPP county chiefs and city mayors are now elbowing each other aside in an effort to jump on the bandwagon. The DPP Kaohsiung Mayor visited the Mainland in order to promote the World Games. The DPP Yunlin County Executive, the DPP Pingtung County Executive, and the DPP former Tainan County Executive are visiting the Mainland in order to promote the sale of Taiwan grown fruits. The DPP Tainan Mayor is currently fighting for cross-Strait direct flights to and from Tainan.
The actions of these DPP county executives and city mayors have broken ideological shackles. We applaud them. We will support them. Their actions do not constitute "pandering to Beijing" or "selling out Taiwan."
These actions by DPP county chiefs and city mayors prove that the KMT's cross-Strait policy benefits the people. DPP party central should have the courage to admit that their policies no longer meet the needs of the people, and that they have no reason to accuse the KMT of "pandering to Beijing" or Ma Ying-jeou of "selling out Taiwan."
If the DPP persists in saying one thing while doing another, then it is engaging in duplicity and behaving like a hypocrite. During the DPP's eight years in power, cross-Strait relations walked a dangerous tightrope. The DPP's ambivalent attitude toward the Republic of China made it impossible to ease cross-Strait tensions. If the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, cross-Strait relations will regress.
I guarantee that if we are re-elected, over the next four years, we will uphold the constitutional framework of the Republic of China, we will base our policy on the "1992 Consensus" of One China, Different Interpretations. We will adhere to our policy of "no reunification, no independence, and no use of force." We will promote peaceful and mutually beneficial interactions with the Mainland.
As long as I am President, I will not hold cross-Strait reunification talks. I will firmly oppose Taiwan independence. I will firmly oppose the use of force to resolve cross-Strait issues.
Cross-Strait relations will abide by the principle of "first economics, then politics, first the urgent, then the less urgent, first the easy, then the difficult." We will maintain a pace that is "just right," facilitating more peaceful cross-Strait relations and making the economy more prosperous.
The future of Taiwan cannot be decided by the President alone. The interests of the public on Taiwan must take priority. The future of Taiwan must be decided by the 23 million people who live on Taiwan, in accordance with the Republic of China Constitution.
I will firmly defend the Republic of China's sovereignty and maintain the dignity of the public on Taiwan. This is my commitment to the people. I have kept it. I am keeping it. I will continue keeping it.
Friendly International Space
During the DPP's eight years in office, it engaged in "guerrilla diplomacy," leaving the nation battered and bruised in the international arena. It squandered a fortune, undermined the Republic of China's international reputation, and lost six diplomatic allies.
Over the past three years, we have been promoting "flexible diplomacy". As a result, the Republic of China is no longer regarded as a troublemaker in the international community, but instead as a peacemaker. We no longer promote "checkbook diplomacy", but rather "humanitarian diplomacy". Our international image has improved accordingly.
Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama praised the two sides for signing ECFA, supporting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. Our own Department of Health Minister has attended three consecutive World Health Assembly sessions after an absence of 38 years. In May of this year, the US Secretary of Health, in a press conference at the World Health Assembly, solemnly declared that "no UN body can unilaterally decide Taiwan's status."
On April 11 of this year, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan published an open letter. He thanked everyone on Taiwan for the hand of friendship extended to Japan during earthquake relief efforts. The Republic of China contributed more aid to Japan than any other nation. On May 11 of this year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting the conclusion of an "Economic Cooperation Agreement" with the Republic of China and supporting the Republic of China's participation in international organizations. Over the past three years, the European Parliament has passed 13 resolutions expressing friendly sentiments to the Republic of China. These friendly acts emanating from the US, Japan, and the EU have all been unprecedented.
During the DPP's eight years in power, 54 countries and regions granted our citizens visa-free or landing visa treatment; the number did not increase. Today, we have secured visa-free treatment from 116 countries and regions. The number has more than doubled. Why? Because our nation is now respected, and our citizens have dignity. This constitutes a vote of confidence by the international community in our nation's image and in the character of our citizens.
These unprecedented changes were not manna from heaven. They were the fruits of three years of joint effort by the government and the public. They reflect the international community's changed perception of the Republic of China.
Distinguished senior members, my fellow citizens, please give me four more years. I will fight for visa-free treatment from even more countries and regions. The Republic of China will participate in even more international organizations. We will sign even more economic cooperation agreements. These are all happening as I speak. We do not want, nor can we tolerate, the DPP overturning them.
We Have the Ability, We Have the Determination
During the DPP's eight years in power, slogans proliferated, but problems went unsolved. We, on the other hand, have both the ability and the determination to solve problems.
Our fellow citizens in Hualien are concerned about the Suhua Expressway. The DPP was unable to resolve the problem. We resolved it with the Suhua Alternate. We passed the once controversial Statute on Hualien/Taitung Area Development. With NT$ 40 billion in funding over a 10 year period, we will develop the infrastructure in Hualien and Taitung.
When the DPP was in power, it promoted the Kuokuang Petrochemical Plant project. After we took over, controversies arose. We considered that environment ought not to be utilized beyond its limits. We decided to halt construction, but also to support the restructuring and upgrading of the petrochemical industry.
We merged and upgraded several cities and counties. We restructured the Executive Yuan. These are all things the DPP could not accomplish. We accomplished all of them.
Consider one example. Rice wine is a seasoning every family uses for cooking. The price used to be NT$ 20 a bottle. But in 2003, when the DPP was in office, it succumbed to pressure from Europe and America. It raised the price of Taiwan rice wine to NT$ 180 a bottle. Consumers balked. Sales plummeted, from 210 million bottles per year to 750,000 bottles per year, a 96% drop. Inferior-quality moonshine rice wine flooded the market. The public raised a hue and cry. But the DPP government was helpless. What could the public do? All it could do was wait for another party to take over.
After we took office, internationally, we made diplomatic démarches to other nations. Domestically, we amended our nation's laws. Last September, rice wine prices plummeted, from NT$ 180 a bottle to NT$ 25 a bottle, an 86% drop. Estimates are that the market will rebound to 150 million bottles a year, 20 times what it was. I ask you, which political party is more competent? Which political party has more courage? Which political party in fact looks after people's rights and interests? Is it the KMT? Or the DPP?
Over the past three years, public safety in the Republic of China has improved by leaps and bounds. Contrast 2010 with 2007. The number of criminal cases decreased 24.4%. Fraud decreased 29.3%. Thefts decreased 40.8%. Violent crimes decreased 44.3%. Cities and counties experienced a 68% public safety satisfaction rating, a 9% increase.
Take fraud, which the public detests with a vengeance. In 1999, prior to the first change in ruling parties, fraud was less serious, both in the number of cases and in the sums involved.
But when the DPP was in power, the number of fraud cases skyrocketed. The number peaked in 2005, when they exceeded 43,000 cases, 11 times what they were in 1999, when we recorded 3,800 cases. The sums involved in fraud cases peaked in 2006. The public lost NT$ 18.5 billion, 15 times what they were in 1999, when NT$ 1.2 billion was lost to fraud. This "economic miracle" was the handiwork of the DPP. During that period those on Taiwan who had not received a fraudulent phone call on his/her home phone at one time or another became a minority.
After coming into office, we waged an all-out war against fraud. This year, estimated fraud cases will plummet to 20,000 or so. Estimated losses will decrease to approximately NT$ 4 billion. Telephone fraud has also significantly fallen. This data is powerful evidence of the KMT administration's courage and ability.
On June 11, 2011, the National Police Administration chartered two airliners. It escorted 223 suspects of Southeast Asian fraud back to Taiwan. Taipei, Beijing, and five other governments, arrested a total of 692 suspects, including the 223 above. The number of suspects arrested, and the number of nations and regions taking part, were the largest in history. Joint cross-Strait crime-fighting efforts have expanded. Now they reach across national jurisdictions and national borders. If the DPP were still in power, could these scam artists have been brought back? Could telephone fraud cases on Taiwan have been reduced so dramatically?
Distinguished senior members, we govern on behalf of the people. No ruling administration can avoid mistakes. But when the DPP makes mistakes, it passes the buck. When the KMT makes mistakes, it admits them and corrects them.
The DPP's ability to talk up a storm puts the KMT to shame. But the KMT's ability to solve problems, to intelligently and courageously govern the nation, leaves the DPP in the dust! Things beneficial to the people that the DPP lacks the courage to do, the KMT has the courage to do.
Things beneficial to the people that the DPP dares not to do, we dare do. Things beneficial to the people that the DPP lacks the ability to do, we have the ability to do. Things beneficial to the people that the DPP has botched badly, we have no hesitation in correcting.
The KMT is a responsible political party. Am I right? Allow the KMT to remain in office. What do you say?
Distinguished senior members, party comrades, today is a day to give thanks.
I would like to thank the people who supported me over three years ago. They gave us the opportunity to fight for Taiwan. I would like to thank my comrades in the party, especially its lawmakers. Their support in the legislature enabled us to do so much, and to change so much, in little over three years.
On January 14 of next year, the Presidential election and the legislative elections will be held on the same day. The campaign will be tough. The race will be close. Now is the moment of truth. Now is the moment when Taiwan will march into the future, or retreat into the past. For the sake of Taiwan, for the sake of posterity, we must unite. Only unity can ensure victory. More of our compatriots must support us, and join us. Public concern and public encouragement is the dynamo behind change and progress on Taiwan.
We must win both the presidency and a legislative majority. It is our duty. It is our mission.
I would like to make you several promises.
Give me four more years, and the economy will be better.
Give me four more years, and your lives will be better.
Give me four more years, and your children's and children's children's lives will be better.
Give me four more years, and Taiwan will be better. My fellow citizens, join me in my cry that we move forward. Taiwan must win!