Outgoing premier Lai Ching-te delivers address at inauguration of new Cabinet

  • Date: 2019-01-14
  • Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan

The following is a translation of the main points of the former premier’s remarks.

Today under the watchful eye of our beloved Vice President Chen Chien-jen, I’m passing the baton to new Premier Su Tseng-chang. I want to wish Premier Su and his team great success as they smoothly and steadily execute their duties—fully in touch with public opinion—and win back the confidence and support of Taiwanese society.

I have great expectations of Premier Su and his Cabinet. Not only does he have the affirmation of President Tsai Ing-wen, but he is also widely acknowledged for his experience, boldness, executive ability and resolute manner. I’m confident that his Cabinet, with its ability to get things done and connect with the people, is now embarking toward a future of even greater success.

Speaking plainly, Taiwan now faces an uncertain geopolitical landscape never before seen. China continues its campaign of extreme suppression against us. Domestically there are many pressing problems that await solutions, which the public expects the government to provide. In such circumstances, it is not enough for the Cabinet to just steam ahead. For Taiwan to enjoy a long and peaceful future, we must all come together to solve problems on three distinct levels.

The first level concerns the reform of constitutional government. Regardless of whether Taiwan moves toward a presidential system, a parliamentary system or a dual executive system, national legislators should consider an arrangement where Cabinet members are drawn from the Legislature itself. Only by such means can we fill the gaps in lawmaking and governance, align ourselves with the will of the people, and improve the efficiency of government.

The second level is a culture of party politics in which national interests reign as the highest priority. The people of Taiwan are united in the hope that the government will focus on the economy, and indeed we have pursued economic growth as a pre-eminent policy. The Executive Yuan recently approved a plan to encourage overseas Taiwanese business to return and invest in Taiwan. However, if we are unable to sign free-trade agreements with other countries and participate in the regional economy, as exemplified by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, then tariffs will present obstacles, and we will fail to reap the full benefits of our efforts to draw investment back home.

In the past when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power, the opposition Kuomingtang (KMT) rejected opening the domestic market to beef and pork from the U.S. Then when the KMT became the ruling party, it was the opposition DPP that objected. There’s no escaping my own complicity as a legislator at that time, and I must apologize to the public. Now I can say solemnly and sincerely that all parties must strive for a political culture that holds the good of the nation above all. Society should adopt international standards and engage in international trade if we are to have the opportunity to join in regional economic integration, and avoid taking Taiwan down a path of ever greater difficulty.

Third, Taiwan should come together and face China as one. Chinese leader Xi Jinping recently delivered a five-point statement in which he stated explicitly that the “1992 consensus” was the “one-China principle,” and that the “one country, two systems” framework provides the only path forward. Under these circumstances, our political parties should harbor no illusions. Taiwanese society should unite in solidarity to face and solve the problem. The cross-strait problem is large, complex and extremely difficult to resolve, but the starting point lies in Taiwan. Taiwan must come together—not to the benefit of any party but rather to benefit Taiwan—and face the issues in order to solve the problem. Today, on this important occasion, my message to Taiwan society is that we should work together to face the problem of China. If Taiwan fails to come together, the problem will remain unresolved, and day by day Taiwan’s opportunities will slip away. If Taiwan unites in solidarity, not only can we resolve the cross-strait dilemma but we will also grow stronger as a nation.