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Vice premier-designate calls for cross-generational dialogue to resolve disputes

04/20/2024 06:00 PM
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Vice premier-designate Cheng Li-chiun at a youth forum in Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo April 20, 2024
Vice premier-designate Cheng Li-chiun at a youth forum in Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo April 20, 2024

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Vice premier-designate Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) on Saturday called for dialogue across different generations to tackle longstanding issues and disputes in Taiwanese society at a youth forum in Taipei.

Asked by a student participant to comment on the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) plan to partially reverse the pension reforms instituted by the current government in 2018, Cheng called for "more extensive discussions within the Legislature and in society."

Pension reforms over the past few years have not been an easy task but there were some "initial achievements," said Cheng, who was last week named vice premier for the new Cabinet, which will begin serving after the presidential inauguration in May.

To ensure the sustainability of the pension system, "cooperation across different generations" is important, she said, adding that the opinions of all stakeholders should be taken into consideration.

The KMT legislative caucus has recently proposed an amendment bill seeking to suspend a phased-in reduction of public pension income for retired military personnel, civil servants and teachers. The controversial pension reform has been in place since 2018 and was introduced to reduce the deficit with the pension system.

Similarly, Cheng called for more dialogue in society to reach consensus on another controversial issue -- whether or not to transform the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall by removing a large statue of the late president it was named after. It has been designated as a site with "authoritarian symbols" according to the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice.

Transforming the memorial hall is "challenging," Cheng acknowledged, noting that the new government must be "more flexible" in its efforts to garner consensus on the issue as well as other highly controversial matters.

She said while she initiated a project aimed at facilitating public discussions on the issue during her tenure as Taiwan's culture minister from 2016 to 2020, "more efforts" were needed.

Her comments were made at the forum hosted by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), where she also presented the new government's policies concerning the youth and young people.

Vice premier-designate Cheng Li-chiun at a youth forum in Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo April 20, 2024
Vice premier-designate Cheng Li-chiun at a youth forum in Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo April 20, 2024

She told more than 100 participants that young generations nowadays faced more challenges than before, such as social inequality brought about by globalization and the restructuring of the world order due to an increasingly assertive China.

"Young people should not be left alone when dealing with these challenges," she said, adding that the government would pour in more resources to improve social welfare and build Taiwan into a more competitive society driven by innovation.

The 54-year-old has not held any official position but she currently serves as chairwoman of the Foundation for Future Generations, Taiwan, an organization dedicated to fostering young talent for the promotion of democracy.

The two-day event also involves a workshop on Sunday, in which participants will discuss the youth policies and present their suggestions to President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and Premier-designate Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), according to the DPP.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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