Taiwan News: Tsai's DPP Rejects Charter Change Proposal

Taiwan News: Tsai's DPP Rejects Charter Change Proposal
Photo Credit: 蔡英文臉書

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A proposal to replace the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s pro-Taiwan independence resolutions with a provision stressing the maintenance of cross-Strait status quo has been vetoed.

Several DPP lawmakers have been pushing for a new resolution based on President's Tsai Ing-wen(蔡英文)'s emphasis on the need to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, a position she has maintained since coming to power in 2016 while declining to accept the so-called 1992 Consensus, which China's government insists is the cornerstone of cross-Strait relations.

The DPP legislators argue that such a resolution is needed in order to update the party's stance on the issue ahead of November's local elections.

The cross-Strait clause would replace the DPP's 1991 resolution calling for the party to push for "an autonomous Republic of Taiwan" independent of China and the 1999 Resolution on Taiwan's Future which states that Taiwan is already a "sovereign and independent country " while calling for Taiwanese to determine the political future of the island via a plebiscite.

According to DPP delegate Hsu Han-sheng (許瀚升), the proposal "echoes mainstream public opinion" and would help the party "consolidate election victories" as it faces a critical test in the local government elections. It also aims to resolve the above contradiction in the party's charter.

However, speaking at the party's annual congress in Taipei, Tsai – who doubles as party chairperson – opted to skip discussions of Hsu's proposal, and told delegates that a similar proposal has already been discussed by the party's Central Standing Committee.

Tsai's decision to skip discussion of the proposal to replace the DPP's pro-Taiwan independence resolutions was passed by a majority of party delegates, in what is a hallmark of the Tsai presidency -- the balancing act of keeping the pro-independence wing of her party onside while not advocating for a referendum on the issue.

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President Tsai also said the party has had trouble understanding how to communicate with young people since taking power in May 2016, but the DPP has not forgotten its promises to them.

Speaking at the party's annual congress, Tsai said she emphasized that building a better country for the younger generation was her government's vital responsibility in her inaugural address two years ago.

According to Tsai, although some young people feel disappointed in the progress and scale of reforms undertaken by the DPP, the party has been consistently working to ensure that young people have the government's support.

Tsai told delegates that the government has launched several large social housing projects, rolled out a long-term care plan to help young people care for the elderly and introduced tax reform packages.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
People take part in a Labor Day protest to voice dissatisfaction with their government's labor policies, in Taipei, Taiwan May 1, 2018.

Migrant workers from the Philippines and Indonesia are demanding they be allowed to join a signature drive for a labor law referendum -- saying that labor rights are for all workers irrespective of nationality.

According to the Migrante International's Taiwan Chapter, the government needs to recognize the validity of migrant worker's signatures on a petition for a referendum that would repeal amendments to the Labor Standards Act.

The referendum petition was initiated by an alliance of labor groups and supported by smaller parties, including the Social Democratic Party and New Power Party and is now in the second phase of signature collection.

It could be held in tandem with November's local elections.

The number of signatures required for the petition to be considered as a valid proposal is 1.5 percent of all eligible voters, or 280,000.

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Trucks drivers and motorcycle owners are calling on the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to scrap plans calling for higher emission standards for some vehicles.

The vehicle owners rallied in Taipei Sunday -- and accused the government of planning to remove their trucks and motorcycles from Taiwan's streets within 10 or more years ago.

The protest comes after lawmakers passed revisions to the Air Pollution Control Act last month, which included amendments that said vehicles 10 years or older would be subject to stricter emission standards.

However, the new regulation failed to detail the new standards that would applied nor did it set a date as to when they would be implemented.

Trucks drivers and motorcycle owners said the government should buy new vehicles for them and allow them to repay the purchase price with an interest-free loans.

The EPA has submitted a low-interest loan proposal to help truck owners replace highly polluting diesel-fuel vehicles.

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The DPP is widely perceived as being better than the Kuomintang (KMT) at advancing reforms, but lags behind the opposition party in its perceived ability to govern the country -- that, according to a survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, a non-governmental and non-profit institute specialized in opinion polls that was established in 2016, shortly before President's Tsai's government came to power.

According to the foundation, the poll shows that 45.9 percent of respondents said they consider the DPP to be more resolute and determined to carry out reforms compared to 14.1 percent who felt the KMT was more dedicated to reform.

The DPP had a 22.9 percentage-point edge over the KMT on which party valued freedom and human rights more and a 20.1 percentage-point edge on which party cared more about the environment and environmental protection.

However, when it came to comparing the ability of the two parties to govern the country and strengthen the economy, more respondents voiced support for the KMT.

Just over a third said the KMT was more capable of governing the country while 22 percent favored the DPP, and 40.1 percent said the KMT was more capable of dealing with economic challenges compared to 17.6 percent who favored the DPP's handling of the economy.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Former Haitian Prime minister Jack Guy Lafontant attends a meeting with members of the Parliament in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 14, 2018.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant will not affect the country's long-term ties with Taiwan.

Lafontant resigned on July 14 after days of violent protests against fuel price rises, during which at least four people were killed.

According to foreign office spokesman Andrew Lee, the move will not affect the bilateral ties between the two countries and Haiti's prime minister visited Taiwan in late May to further cement diplomatic ties.

Taiwan and Haiti established diplomatic ties in 1956, and the country is one of Taiwan's 18 remaining diplomatic allies after switching of recognition to Beijing by the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso in May.

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A group of lawmakers from across party lines will visit the United States on a six-day trip from today.

According to DPP lawmaker Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳), the delegation will meet with U.S. government officials and members of Congress.

They will call on House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus and other government officials.

And they will also attend a dinner banquet hosted by Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Stanley Kao (高碩泰).

Officials say the trip aims to give the U.S. more information on Taiwan's current situation, and cross-Strait issues are expected to be discussed during their trip.

The two sides are also to discuss the Taiwan Travel Act and the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes provisions to help strengthen Taiwan's military capabilities.

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The Health Promotion Administration says over 34,000 infertile women in Taiwan used assisted reproductive technology to try to give birth in 2016, with women aged 35 or over opting for the technology growing in number.

According to the administration, 34,486 infertile women tried to get pregnant using artificial means, including 99.4 percent through in vitro fertilization, in 2016 -- the last year for which data is available.

Of that number, 23,575 were women aged 35 or over seeking to give birth for the first time.

That was up 22 percent from 2015 and accounted for 68.4 percent of the total group of women looking to assisted reproductive technology to get pregnant.

The administration also say that the average age of women giving birth to their first child in 2017 rose to 30.8, an increase of 1.27 years from 2007.

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This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: David Green