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Ma focuses on youth, children and women in presidential debate

2011/12/17 17:32:02

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou stated that the government will step up its investment in Taiwan's youth, children and women at a presidential debate on Saturday.

"These three groups will decide the future of the nation,"Ma said as he faced off with his two rivals -- Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and James Soong of the minor PeopleFirst Party -- during the second and final televised debate in the runupto the Jan. 14 presidential election.

Starting next year, Ma of the Kuomintang, said he will seek to raise the hourly pay of part-time workers from NT$103 to NT$115 and will solicit further hikes over the next four years.

He also said that his administration has created more than 350,000 job opportunities, with 88 percent of them being long-term jobs. He added this figure was 210,000 more than that of the previous DPP administration.

He also vowed to raise housing subsidies and loans for young people in the next four years and build more social housing units.

The government will also provide loans to youngsters if they want to start their own businesses, he said.

Concerning mothers with young children, the president said that the government has provided paid maternity leaves for mothers who havechildren under 2 years old. For those women who wish to return to theworkplace, the government has provided nursing subsidies.

"We are not going to let women lose their links with the working environment,"he vowed.

He noted that children over 5 years old now receive free schooling and if possible financially, his government will include 3 and 4 year olds in the policy.

The president also mentioned that Taipei recently won the right to host the 2017 Universiade, which he said is the biggest sporting event next to the Olympics Games.

He said that one of the reasons Taipei won the hosting right was "the creation of a peaceful cross-strait atmosphere and friendlyrelations with the international community."

Taiwan's next big goal will be to solicit the right to host the 2024 Olympics Games, he said.

Ma cited substantive figures to prove what his administrationhas achieved since 2008, asking that the DPP not be afraid ofthe figures because of its lack of performance during its rule between 2000-2008.

(By Kelvin Huang and Lilian Wu)