Likely Kuomintang (KMT) 2016 presidential candidate and Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu yesterday argued that her rival Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen was misleading the public by comparing Taiwan with Greece.
Hung's statement, which was made on her official Facebook page, came in response to Tsai's proposals last week to reform Taiwan's pension system. Tsai stated that should the DPP come to power next year, she would form a committee tasked with tackling the issue. Hung accused Tsai of misleading the Taiwanese public and said that Tsai should refrain from inciting "class warfare" and should instead focus on overall solutions to Taiwan's economic problems.
In rebutting Tsai's assertions that Taiwan's national debt problem mirrored the Mediterranean nation's insolvency problems which lead to default, Hung criticised the opposition leader for drawing the analogy of Taiwan's debt (which is largely underwritten nationally) to the EU member's recent monetary uncertainties, the result of large debts owed to foreign creditors including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Hung's statement referred to Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP) 2014 annual growth rate of 3.77 per cent and compared it with Greece's 0.8 per cent. She also pointed to major contrasts between unemployment, the savings rate of its citizens and national debt to GDP ratio. According to statistics cited by the KMT contender, Taiwan's GDP to national debt ratio was more than 90 per cent lower than levels in Greece in 2012. In addition, as of March 2015, Greece's overall unemployment was more than 20 per cent higher than Taiwan's (25.6 per cent to 3.72 per cent).
She also added that Greece's government workers on average make three times more than private sector employees, and that its share of civil servant employees at 6.13 per cent was much higher than Taiwan's share of civil servant to overall employment ratio of 1.5 per cent.
Legislators Call for Hung Press Conference
Meanwhile, KMT lawmakers lead by Wu Yu-sheng recommended that Hung call a news conference to include both local and foreign media, in order to official state and finalize her cross-strait policy. Hung yesterday met with 10 KMT legislators to discuss cross-strait policy, her fifth such meeting in as many days.
Wu also suggested that Hung begin public campaigns, including official leaflets and promotional material, in the south and central regions of the island, using wording and style that would better appeal to "everyday citizens."
Members of her party became concerned two weeks ago when Hung's stance on "upgrading" the "1992 Consensus" lead to remarks she made in a television interview in which she stated that she "could not say the R.O.C. exists" lest it be construed with supporting a "special state-to-state" relationship with China. A firestorm response from opposition party members, concerns from party members in the KMT implying that Hung could weaken their own election prospects and a sharp drop in Hung's opinion poll scores led the KMT contender to backtrack from "one China, same interpretation."
Hung promised party officials last week that she would not pursue those remarks further in the future.