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President outlines goals for new year with an emphasis on youth

2017/12/29 23:26:07

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, center)

Taipei, Dec. 29 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday laid out her administration's policy goals for the coming year with an emphasis on addressing the problem of low wages for young people.

Citing "youthquake," chosen by Oxford Dictionaries as its word of 2017, Tsai said the word reflected the huge impact young people have had on the world. "This is a global phenomenon and Taiwan is no exception," she said.

As defined by Oxford Dictionaries "youthquake" means "a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people."

"If young people are still willing to listen to what the government has to say, I would like to tell you I understand the anxieties you have and I will do whatever is possible to completely change the country as we head toward a more promising future," Tsai said.

The president added that she has tasked her administration to "bring to an end the problem of low wages for young people."

The five approaches the government plans to adopt are: promoting industrial upgrading and transformation to create good quality jobs, encouraging businesses to boost salaries, continuing to raise year-on-year minimum wage rates and the enactment of a minimum wage law, she said.

Tsai also vowed to make more programs available to help young people hired on atypical contracts and in low-paying jobs to receive training and find better jobs as well as to lower the rate of interest on student loans.

"We are duty-bound to resolve this problem. If we do not start to work it out now, we will owe young people and future generations so much," Tsai said.

Tsai made the remarks at a year-end press conference at the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) in Taoyuan city.

Beginning her opening remarks by explaining why she chose to hold the press conference at NCSIST, Tsai said it was to "emphasize our determination to foster an indigenous defense industry and defend Taiwan's democracy."

On either side of the stage where Tsai stood were representations of Tengyun, a heavy drone designed for surveillance purposes, and the Air Force's Next Generation Trainer.

Tsai said that Tengyun will soon be mass produced and the Air Force's Next Generation Trainer will make its maiden flight in 2020 as scheduled. "Taiwan is not a big country, but we are determined to defend our country," she said.

On Taiwan's foreign policy strategies, Tsai said the New Southbound Policy which aims for Taiwan to engage more closely with countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia has been well received by neighboring nations.

"Go South and we will find new opportunities," Tsai said, adding that next year efforts to promote the New Southbound Policy will be "in full swing."

Tsai also addressed plans to transform the national economy, to improve working conditions for economically disadvantaged individuals, relax the rules governing recruitment of foreign professionals and expand the scope of long-term care for people such as those suffering from dementia.

The president said she has "mixed feelings" about her first 500 days in office.

Tsai said that on the one hand, she was gratified to see reforms accomplished, but on the other, the difficulties encountered have also forced her to rethink whether to stick to the path of reform.

"Every time, I have the same answer, we have to continue to push ahead with reform," Tsai said, adding that people demonstrating in the street and her plummeting approval ratings are the price that has to be paid to push through reforms.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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