Legislative Yuan President Su, Legislative Yuan Vice President Tsai, distinguished legislators:
On May 20 Ms. Tsai Ing-wen and Mr. Chen Chien-jen assumed office as our 14th president and vice president, respectively. That same day, I assumed office as premier of the Executive Yuan. Today, I have been invited to the Legislature to deliver an administrative policy report. This is both an honor, and a great responsibility.
I understand that President Tsai and the public have great expectations for the new Cabinet's administrative policies. They therefore hope that the administration will promote its policies with all due speed, and lead the country out of the social malaise and economic stagnation of the past few years.
To address an ever-increasing number of economic, social and environmental issues, we want to leave old ways of thinking behind and try to use new models to resolve current problems.
Based on President Tsai's administrative policy blueprint, we are therefore using three principles, "innovation, employment and equitable distribution" to guide Taiwan's new economic direction and development model.
We have developed three packages of five major programs to address economic, social and political issues that Taiwan is facing at this stage.
The first of these policy principles is strengthening innovation as the core value to guide Taiwan's new economic and development model.
We hope that innovation, whether by creating new manufacturing technologies, adding value to products or improving operational models, will allow industry to use fewer resources, generate higher added value and maintain enterprise competitiveness.
By setting up five industry clusters that facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship, we will be able to concentrate resources and innovative research and development (R&D) capabilities, forge close links between industry and academia, attract and retain foreign talent, increase vendor productivity, drive regional economic growth and expand employment opportunities.
Our emphasis is on using innovation to resolve problems, but at the same time, we must encourage private sector investment as an important way to address the current low salaries and high unemployment in Taiwan.
In addition to improving the investment environment, we need to raise the investment willingness of enterprises by signing investment and trade agreements, and joining regional economic and trade organizations. To create economies of scale, Taiwan enterprises must internationalize and make the whole world their market.
Second, we need nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations and social enterprises to penetrate socially disadvantaged areas to provide public and social services and create job opportunities.
While emphasizing innovation and employment, we have not overlooked the importance of using institutional innovation to foster a just society.
Therefore, we will implement five major social stability programs to build a sustainable, just and secure social welfare system as the foundation of a new society. Programs include: promoting housing security policies, enhancing food safety, community care, ensuring pension sustainability and maintaining public security.
The third plan is for the Executive Yuan to coordinate with the other four branches of government [Legislative Yuan, Judicial Yuan, Examination Yuan and Control Yuan] in promoting five major political reform programs to ensure that democracy, freedom and rule of law are the foundations of the new administration. Programs include: promoting generational justice, enhancing government effectiveness through innovation, initiating parliamentary reform, achieving transitional justice, promoting human rights guarantees, and constitutional and judicial reform.
Five Major Policies
These are the policy strategies we have formulated based on the president's policy ideas and national policy blueprint.
Concrete policy strategies have already been printed out, and sent here to the Legislative Yuan for your perusal.
Now, I would like to give a brief overview of five major policy directions for the future.
I. Comprehensive transformation and upgrading to kick-start economic momentum
A. Innovation clusters for the five major innovative industries to attract and retain talent
To address the current difficulties of domestic industries, we plan to use innovation clusters for the five major innovative industries to attract transnational investment and cooperation, acquire advanced technology, upgrade domestic industries and increase employment opportunities. To develop emerging industries, it is essential that we conduct a comprehensive review of numerous outdated laws and regulations, and our educational and scientific research systems.
The five innovative industries that we are promoting—green energy technologies, the internet of things, biopharmaceuticals, national defense industries and precision machinery—and our innovative R&D plan for those industries, all require that we assemble a large multinational talent pool with diverse professional backgrounds, and extensive funding and technology.
Therefore, personnel recruitment and system guarantees are critical. We need to allow foreign nationals to participate in our social welfare system and provide a foreigner-friendly tax environment to attract international talent and give them a sense of security about living and working in Taiwan.
B. Promote lifestyle industries and enhance quality of life
In addition to the five major innovative industries plan, we will also vigorously promote "lifestyle" industries such as the "new" agriculture, tourism and leisure, disaster prevention technology, residential renovation, personal care and maritime industries to increase local employment opportunities and enhance quality of life.
To help the agricultural industry develop into a more competitive and profitable industry that allows farmers to support themselves as well as the next generation, the government will continue to promote farmers' welfare measures, and provide incentives for environmentally and farmland-friendly production methods, and introduce an agricultural insurance system to reduce the risks that farmers face and stabilize their livelihoods.
To increase the quality of agricultural products, we will employ comprehensive production tracing and a transparent food safety management mechanism to re-establish farm-to-table agricultural value so that consumers can rest assured that they are "eating healthy" and Taiwan agricultural products can be marketed worldwide.
To enhance the quality of Taiwan tourist industry products, we will develop an e-visa application system and simplify domestic travel procedures to make it convenient for international travelers to see Taiwan's many scenic attractions, relax, and shop with confidence.
C. Re-establish fiscal discipline and reform the pension system
We will do a comprehensive review and ensure all financial resources are used efficiently to control state finances within the scope of the existing budget.
In the future, we will not follow convention and simply renew programs every fiscal year. We will start at zero, reconsider everything, and allocate resources strictly based on policy priorities.
Funds allocated for major programs must be subject to rigorous policy impact assessments to minimize waste.
Priority investment targets for public construction by the central government will be selected on a regional, cross-county/city basis to promote the sharing of resources and benefits by local governments.
To resolve local finance issues, the rights and responsibilities of the central and local governments will be subject to review, and financial resources to cover expenditures to meet legal obligations will be disbursed directly. This will strengthen local governance and encourage local governments to establish coordination mechanisms for consolidating resources and resolving cross-regional affairs.
Income generation and cost-cutting incentives will be added to the current mechanism by which the central government subsidizes localities, narrowing the funding distribution gap between special municipalities and smaller municipalities. This will avoid wide disparities in the public resources enjoyed by people in different regions.
The pension reform process is intimately tied to the nation's long-term viability and intergenerational justice, and requires the participation of members from different professions, social strata and generations. The government will form a national pension reform committee comprising cross-party academics and experts, employers, employees and government representatives. The committee will formulate viable pension reforms, convene a national conference on pension reform, and communicate with society to form a consensus.
II. Create social stability so citizens can live and work in peace
A. Provide social housing, promote community-based care
The government has proposed a secure housing program to curb real estate speculation and create a healthy rental market so that everyone can find an affordable and livable place of their own.
We will also promote a social housing policy with homes for rent, but not for sale. Under this policy, central and local governments will work together to find suitable sites for new home construction, put idle homes on the market, and provide developers with incentives to build affordable housing. Our goal is to provide 200,000 rental units within eight years.
As Taiwan grapples with a declining birth rate and rapidly aging population, we have come up with a three-pronged care policy to promote child care, long-term care and job creation.
Working with communities, we will integrate child care, adult care and health care resources to alleviate family burdens while providing jobs for women reentering the workplace. We are also promoting a "long-term care 2.0" program that will provide services designed for care recipients, and build neighborhood networks of community health and care management centers to narrow the urban-rural gap.
This kind of long-term care program will require a steady source of funding, so the government will use earmarked taxes to pay for these services. To ensure that long-term care resources are used fairly and efficiently, we will evaluate the program's requirements and financial status before determining the scope of services and subsidy levels.
B. Improve public safety, combat drug crimes
In addition to fighting organized crime, illegal firearms and scam operations, and protecting the safety of women and children, the government has made illegal drugs a top priority to improve public safety.
To confront this challenge, we will assign more manpower to narcotics control, set up a national drug crimes database and an inter-regional drug prevention network, and create a regulatory agency for toxic substances and chemicals to come up with comprehensive control measures. Taiwan also needs to cooperate more closely with other countries to tighten borders and ramp up drug inspections to cut the flow of illegal substances into the country.
We will also step up community policing and school anti-drug campaigns to keep drugs out of the hands of our youth. To do that, we will enlist the help of the private and voluntary sectors, including corporations, security companies, volunteers, nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations.
C. Build a comprehensive medical care environment, ensure the nation's health
To improve the quality and efficiency of basic health care services, we will allocate appropriate budgets for the public health system and basic health care professionals. This will provide disadvantaged people and residents of remote areas with access to high-quality preventive health services, disease control programs, community care and other medical services.
To protect the labor rights of medical personnel, we will amend labor laws to give the same level of protection to all employed doctors and personnel. We will also tie health care payments to the quality of care to ensure that health care providers are fairly compensated for their services.
D. Enforce comprehensive food safety controls, protect consumer health
To raise the quality and competitiveness of Taiwan's food industry and restore public faith in its products, we will reform the food safety system by improving the overall food manufacturing environment and rooting out corrupt practices.
First, we will create a toxic substances control agency to monitor and track all toxic chemicals starting from the source. A food tracing system will also be set up to record every stage of the food manufacturing process, and make this information transparent to consumers.
Next, we will amend the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation to impose heavier legal and compensation liabilities on violators, promote self-regulation by food companies, and encourage citizen oversight by increasing rewards for whistleblowers while protecting their anonymity.
E. Improve working conditions, enhance labor rights
It is the government's responsibility to ensure that all workers have a dignified environment in which to work and develop their skills.
To improve workplace conditions and protect worker health, we will cut the number of legal working hours per year, which will allow people to balance their work, leisure and family obligations while creating domestic demand for leisure and tourism services.
To address low salary levels, we will change the review process for determining the minimum wage, incorporating basic living costs and other socioeconomic indicators to make the system more reasonable.
To promote employment, we will encourage older workers to pass on their knowledge and skills to the younger generation. We will also integrate career counseling, job referral and vocational training programs to help unemployed young people find jobs.
III. Reform education and culture, promote ethnic coexistence and co-prosperity
A. Boost educational and cultural quality, strengthen talent development
To nurture talent for the next generation, we want to create a pleasant learning environment for students while alleviating parental burdens. The government has thus proposed solutions for challenges currently facing preschool education, the 12-year national education system, vocational education and higher education.
For preschool education, we will expand public kindergarten programs, improve working conditions for child care providers, and offer child care services at fair prices while ensuring quality.
For the 12-year education system, we will encourage students to attend schools close to home, and more resources will be invested in improving teaching quality at local elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools.
For technical and vocational education, we will narrow the skills gap by having working professionals teach students what they need to know to succeed in the real world. Students will also have internship and hands-on learning opportunities to gain job-ready skills.
For higher education, we will promote the transformation and merger of universities according to a national and regional development strategy while protecting the interests of educators and ensuring students' right to learn.
At the same time, we will strengthen academia-industry cooperation and build partnerships between universities and nearby companies, turning universities into training centers that can produce researchers, developers and technical talent for local industries.
B. Enrich cultural life, extend cultural influence
Cultural policy will once again focus on "people-centered" concepts to bring happiness into everyone's lives. First, we will reverse the "top-down" approach and return to a cultural administration that encourages artistry, professionalism and creativity.
We will also nourish community life by emphasizing local culture, passing our memories on to future generations through local learning centers, cultural assets, museums and school education.
To reconstruct the shared memories of our land and people while ensuring cultural diversity, we will promote passage of a basic act governing culture, encouraging young people to engage in creative and cutting-edge art, and giving them a richer cultural environment in which to thrive.
Taking advantage of our cultural soft power, we will employ cultural diplomacy to reconnect and reintroduce Taiwan to the international community. We will also generate greater economic value in the cultural and creative industries by elevating the cultural level of those sectors.
C. Address the needs of all social groups, provide diverse paths to growth
To raise the status of women throughout society, we will actively promote gender mainstreaming to make gender equality principles a reality in every field and profession.
For indigenous peoples, our efforts to promote self-governance must be grounded in substance and meaning, and this includes ensuring their financial autonomy, allocating land and establishing permanent organizations. We will implement indigenous autonomy in a gradual, orderly and practical manner, fully utilizing the Comprehensive Development Fund for Indigenous Peoples and setting up a "mutual aid bank" that helps indigenous businesses through financial assistance, microinsurance coverage and an innovative incubation mechanism.
We will also change the Indigenous Peoples Employment Rights Protection Act to get the public and private sector to cooperate on creating more local jobs for indigenous peoples.
To pass on the linguistic, historic and cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples, we will amend the Education Act for Indigenous People to increase emphasis on indigenous perspectives in school curriculums and create full-time positions for language teachers.
Regarding the development of Hakka villages and communities, we must rely on more than holiday festivals to attract consumer spending; we must promote all of Hakka culture to increase tourism and spur local economies.
The Taoyuan-Hsinchu-Miaoli area has the highest density of Hakka people in Taiwan, and Provincial Highway No. 3 passes through some of the area's most picturesque Hakka villages. We have therefore outlined a "Romantic Provincial Highway 3" project that will connect 16 Hakka communities along that highway, creating a historically rich route stretching from the Pingzhen and Longtan districts in Taoyuan to the Shigang District in Taichung.
By promoting tourism and adding cultural value to Hakka industries, we hope to drive the growth of "new agriculture" and create job and business opportunities that will bring young Hakkas back to their hometowns.
To ensure fair treatment for new immigrants, we are planning amendments to the Public Assistance Act that will address problems of unfair treatment at work and other areas of life.
We also want to encourage second-generation immigrants to learn their mother tongues so that speakers of Southeast Asian languages can lead the way to greater cooperation with countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy.
For people suffering from mental and physical disabilities, we will step up the development, manufacture and production of high-tech assistive devices so they can lead more independent lives. To improve the mobility of physically challenged persons and facilitate social participation, we will also set a timetable for improving transportation accessibility in non-urban areas.
IV. Promote political reforms to balance regional development
A. Promote national unity and increase government effectiveness
The decades-long authoritarian era in Taiwan led to numerous violations of constitutional democracy, depriving people of their rights—including the right to life—and expropriating private assets, while various ethnic groups suffered unfair treatment. The government should therefore be forthright in addressing transitional justice issues, and do its utmost to restore the truth, encourage social reconciliation, and ultimately bring about national solidarity and unity.
Effective government is essential to improving the nation's competitiveness. Government reforms to improve effectiveness will require better policy formulation, communication and implementation. Information must be open and transparent, so that government policy decisions better reflect the will of the people.
In addition to promoting interministerial communication and integration, both horizontal and vertical, as well as improving service speed and quality, financial resources must be carefully utilized to ensure that new policies and proposals can be carried out more efficiently.
B. Achieve regional balance through inter-regional joint governance
To address overall national land planning and regional development issues, the government will protect the island's ecological chain, and conduct thorough survey and data integration in environmentally sensitive and disaster-prone districts in order to prevent the overuse of state land.
The government will also address regional development gaps by vigorously promoting an inter-regional joint governance model to develop economies with their own specific characteristics as follows:
‧ The greater metropolitan Taipei area, which includes New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Keelung and Yilan, will be the strategic center of Taiwan's international economic and trade affairs.
‧ The Taoyuan-Hsinchu-Miaoli area will be developed into a "living sphere" featuring Hakka culture as well as science and technology.
‧ With its well-connected transportation network, the Taichung-Changhua-Nantou area will become an international metropolis for tourism and industrial activities.
‧ The Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan area will serve as Taiwan's "granary" and a base for advanced agriculture.
‧ Southern Taiwan's Tainan-Kaohsiung-Pingtung area will feature industries related to its abundant sunshine and access to the sea, and will form a more close-knit living network with the Penghu Islands.
‧ Supported by the relevant regulations, Hualien and Taitung, as well as the Kinmen Islands and Matsu Islands, will maintain their local character and develop into valuable centers for ecological resources and leisure travel.
V. Consolidating diplomatic and cross-strait ties, expanding international participation
The government's foreign policy is founded on peace, stability and prosperity. Therefore, we must strengthen bilateral ties with friendly countries and create long-term, sustainable partnerships.
We thus hope to strengthen our partnerships with the U.S. and Japan. In addition to expanding economic and cultural links, we also hope to engage them in substantive dialogue regarding regional security and economic integration, including becoming a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
At the same time, the government will vigorously promote humanitarian aid, disaster rescue and relief, disease control and prevention, and the mitigation of climate change. Through nongovernmental organizations, we will also expand exchanges with countries worldwide in up-and-coming fields such as innovation, high technology, green energy and youth programs to show that we have a strong sense of responsibility to the international community.
As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and India are now becoming major global economic entities, the Executive Yuan will establish a task force to promote the New Southbound Policy and cultivate stronger relations with South Asian countries and India. In addition to trade and investment, we will establish diverse and bilateral links promoting people-to-people, communication, cultural, education and research exchanges.
The government will also make every effort to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait and sustain the peaceful development of cross-strait ties, and improve cross-strait relations based on equality and dignity to encourage more negotiations and exchanges. It is our firm belief that stable cross-strait relations are in the best interests of both sides.
Members of the Legislature have expressed concern about U.S. pork containing ractopamine, radiation-tainted Japanese food, and the Okinotori sea area, so here I will offer an explanation of the Executive Yuan's stance on these three issues.
For the first issue, U.S. pork containing ractopamine, the government will engage in discussions premised on ensuring food safety and the rights and interests of pig farmers. We therefore plan to:
A. Ensure food safety for all citizens by vigorously enforcing the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.
B. Propose a concrete plan to revitalize the hog farming industry to improve industry competitiveness and protect farmers' rights.
C. Conduct risk assessments in accordance with international standards, while also considering the consumption habits of Taiwan citizens. Prior to conducting scientific, evidence-based risk assessments, we are opposed to allowing ractopamine in either domestic or imported pork. Therefore, whether or not we should open the market to U.S. pork containing ractopamine is not really an issue.
D. Establish a comprehensive communications mechanism that allows the government, producers, consumers and civic groups to communicate in real time.
To address the issue of radiation and the safety of Japanese food imports, the government is still requiring certificates of origin, and in addition, radiation inspection certificates for designated products. We will also continue to monitor Japan's own inspections and other countries' regulations governing Japanese food imports, as well as their food safety test results.
We will continue to monitor the situation and assess risks. Should the hazard level increase, we will step up supervisory measures based on risk control principles. If, after conducting scientific risk assessments, the radiation levels in Japanese foods are deemed safe, the government will adjust the required control measures when appropriate, making public health our highest priority. We must emphasize, however, that there is currently no plan and no timetable for loosening regulatory controls on the import of Japanese food from radiation-affected areas.
As for the controversy regarding the waters surrounding Okinotori, the Executive Yuan's position is as follows:
A. Okinotori is sovereign Japanese territory. In the international arena, this is not in dispute.
B. The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has yet to reach a definitive conclusion about whether Okinotori is an island or a reef, so this sea area is still in dispute. The Executive Yuan feels that Japan's claims regarding the waters surrounding Okinotori are disputable. This position has never changed.
C. Taiwan's position on disputes regarding the waters surrounding Okinotori are as follows:
1. Japan cannot use Okinotori as a base point for its claim to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. In the waters near Okinotori, Taiwanese fishermen have fishing rights that our government will do its utmost to defend.
2. To permanently protect the nation's fishing rights near Okinotori, Taiwan is willing to engage Japan in dialogue and negotiations at the earliest possible date. We hope that both sides will show goodwill and avoid provocations in word or deed to ensure that follow-up negotiations go smoothly.
Taiwan has now experienced three transfers of governing power. This third transfer shows that Taiwan's democracy is developing towards maturity. It also shows that the people of Taiwan are eager to leave the turbulence of political battles behind, and pick up the pace in the race against international competition.
I understand, deep down, the public's hopes and aspirations, and the government's role and responsibilities. The nation is now facing severe challenges, at home and abroad, so the administration has to get up to speed quickly, and perform at a high level. At the same time, the administration needs the Legislature's support to help pass legislation and budgets so that policies can move ahead smoothly, kick-start Taiwan's economy, and usher in a new era.
The government's administrative team will communicate and dialogue about all policy measures with the Legislature and the public, and fast-track priority legislation. Please do give us your wholehearted support.
With the concerted efforts of the Executive and Legislative Yuans, and full public support, we firmly believe that Taiwan can become a truly beautiful country, a country that is more democratic, more prosperous and more equitable.
We respectfully ask that all of our legislators honor us with your counsel and suggestions, as we wish you all the best of health and good fortune.