Business leaders urge end to Taiwan gov't gridlock

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Leaders from six major business and industry organisations yesterday issued a statement urging a swift end to the ongoing political stalemate between President Ma Ying-jeou's administration and the legislative branch.

In a joint statement, the organisations remarked that the nation is not equipped to sustain the collateral effects of an ongoing political struggle, and urged the president to refrain from further escalation of the matter. The people's suffering and anger grows as the political turmoil persists, said the organisations' leaders, who advised that the president's priority should be focused on ensuring Taiwan's long-term economic growth.

Several much-touted policies still await resolution by governing bodies, which have thus far been mired in a state of gridlock since the outbreak of the political struggle between Ma and Wang Jin-pyng in September. A referendum on Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四公投案), reforms to the national retirement pension scheme (年金改革案), an amendment to the labour insurance programme (勞保條列修正案) and the drafting of amendments on laws governing the allocation of government revenues and expenditure (財政收支劃分法) all have been put on hold amid current scandals. According to the organisations, these issues require deliberation by a national affairs conference and the participation of the ruling and opposition parties as well as the private sector. A productive platform of dialogue is sorely needed to ensure Taiwan's future, said business and industry leaders.

In addition to restoring the legislature to a normal function, and bringing a swift end to the drawn-out political row, a tangible set of guidelines need to be established to govern negotiations among political factions in order to rebuild the fundamental mechanisms of a democratic government and regain the people's confidence, said the aforementioned leaders. The organisations stated that such a system would be instrumental in regulating the actions and conduct of legislators, and could prevent the onset of political disputes in the future.

Most notably, business and industry leaders urged the legislature to produce a timetable for a number of pressing bills that are awaiting approval, including the recently inked cross-strait service industries trade agreement, urban renewal and 52 other proposals.

The six major organisations who issued the statement include the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China (全國商業總會), the Chinese National Federation of Industries (工業總會), the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會), the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, R.O.C. (中小企業總會), the Taiwan Federation of Industry (工業協進會), and the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (電電公會).

In response, Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏) restated Ma's claim that the government is not in a state of gridlock and is instead functioning as expected, adding that the administration will explore the possibility of a national affairs conference.

Meanwhile, exports in September and the third quarter, the traditional high season for international trade, fell by 7 and 0.8 per cent, respectively.