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Government needs to reflect on student movement: entrepreneur

2014/05/11 20:12:02

Taipei, May 11 (CNA) A student-led occupation of the Legislature in late March demonstrated the frustration and despair of Taiwan's youth, and the government must engage in self-reflection for something positive to come out of the incident, a young businessman contended.

Speaking to CNA last month, Jamie Lin, the founder of appWorks Ventures, said the "Sunflower" movement actually had nothing to do with a trade-in-services agreement with China, as is commonly portrayed, but simply reflected a sense of frustration.

He said the government's failed education, industrial and housing policies have left Taiwan's youth less competitive than their peers abroad and made it harder for them to find good jobs or buy an apartment.

Let down by the government and lacking hope, the students rose up in revolt, said the venture capitalist, who founded appWorks Ventures four years ago after returning from the United States, where he earned an engineering degree and then worked for years.

Lin argued that Taiwan's taxes-to-GDP ratio is the lowest in world, which not only reflects bad tax policy but is completely unfair, and the government has not been able to fundamentally solve the problem.

He accused the government of lowering corporate income taxes, estate taxes and taxes on overseas income without any good reason, leaving the government starved of funding for key projects needed to develop the economy.

At the same time, those with money have had fewer investment targets, leading them to speculate on real estate, but as housing prices rose, the government did not impose heavier property taxes and allowed the situation to worsen, Lin argued.

The only way for the trend to be reversed and for Taiwan to move forward on a positive path is if the government can learn from its mistakes.

Wu Yu-sheng, a ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker, agreed with Lin's premise, saying Sunday that the administration should learn lessons from the occupation movement and take measures to strengthen its communications and improve its policies.

He stressed, however, that occupying public venues should not become a new model for protests because it would cause great inconvenience to the lives of other citizens.

Chao Tien-lin, an opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, told CNA Friday that the street protests were not a return to the past but rather represented a transitory phase of working through difficulties in the process of democratization.

"A key problem is the imbalance of power between government bodies," Chao argued, saying that the power of the president far exceeds that of the Legislature and that the imbalance can only be addressed by amending the Constitution.

He suggested that the ruling and opposition parties should specify certain issues on which lawmakers can express their own opinions without being influenced by party whips at national affairs conferences.

(By Milly Lin, Tai Ya-chen, Wang Ching-yi and Kuo Chung-han)

(Click here for a timeline of major developments of the Sunflower Movement.)