Chu vows NT$30,000 wages, action on China competition

By Stephanie Chao ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu expounded on domestic issues during the first televised presidential election debate on Sunday, promising to boost minimum wages to NT$30,000.

Proposing his “three strategy plan” (戰略三策), Chu stated his goals of raising basic wages from NT$20,008 to NT$30,000 during his four-year term as president, higher tax rates on the wealthy, a new consensus and expansion of international space, the Central News Agency reported.

In his opening statement, Chu apologized on behalf of his party to citizens nationwide for the KMT’s “lacking” performance during its eight-year rule. “I believe it was not good enough — the economy wasn’t open enough, industries did not see enough advancement, there was a lack of distributive justice and a failure to solidify consensus among society, and low determination to see through reforms,” Chu said.

On minimum wages, Chu wished to see an increase of pay to push forward advancements in industries and reverse the current stagnant economic environment. He called low wages a “national humiliation.” Former President Chen Shui-bian only tweaked the basic wage once during his two presidential terms, while President Ma Ying-jeou made five adjustments. “Why is everyone indifferent about it? The answer lies in how the adjustment range was not large enough.”

The KMT candidate said he stands by his aim to change past views on using “profits” to push forward growth — wage increases should be the main aim in promoting growth instead, expanding Taiwan’s potential to become a “free-economy island,” and working toward a positive cycle of high wages and growth.

Regarding tax reforms, Chu said he wanted to see higher taxes on the wealthy, and lower taxes on the middle class. He defended his reform policy, saying that the wealthy should contribute more back to society.

On expanding international space, Chu promised cooperation with mainland China, banking on the past eight stable, and peaceful cross-strait relation developments, increasing credibility and upholding the “1992 Consensus.”

On concerns of China’s growing “red supply chain,” Chu three times stated support for opening up Taiwan to transform it into a competitive economy, responding to media questions made by the United Daily New’s head editor on cross-strait relations. “Taiwan is not afraid of the red supply chain,” Chu said, demonstrating optimism toward cross-strait cooperation. He blasted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to recognize the “1992 Consensus” and her previous remarks on how EFCA would result in 4 million unemployed.