Taiwan president urges Beijing to embrace democracy

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Republic of China has provided the best example of democratic politics, as it tolerates different opinions, prompts communication and resolves disputes, said President Ma Ying-jeou at the Double Tenth National Day celebration yesterday.

As with every year, the Double Tenth Day celebration was held in the square facing the Presidential Office. President Ma gave a speech titled: "Being Proud of Democracy, Proud of Taiwan."

Taiwan has long been holding regular presidential and parliamentary elections, and there are as many as 255 legally registered political parties, said Ma.

"The central government has seen two party alternations; for a new democracy, this is an important example of how it is upholding democracy."

"The people have expressed their opinions on public issues through the media, the Internet and through assemblies and marches... the ways are numerous and not prohibited in any way. The (actions) are active and common, and provide the people with ample information and deepen policy discussions," said Ma, who also pointed out that among all Asian nations, the US has listed only Taiwan and Japan as countries "with press freedom" in the Press Freedom Rankings.

Voicing Support for HK Protesters

Ma once again brought up his support for the pro-democracy cries for universal suffrage in Hong Kong and called on China to keep the promise it made to the financial hub at the time of the handover 17 years ago.

When it comes to cross-strait relations, the so-called "1992 consensus" and "one China, different interpretations" have been the grounds for peaceful developments between mainland China and Taiwan for the past six years.

"This is our unwavering stance, and I must remind China that now is the best time for it to embrace democracy .. The democratic developments between China and Hong Kong are based on the leaders' wisdom and acceptance in the face of change," said Ma.

"Why can't Deng Xiaoping's famous proposal for some people to get rich first work in Hong Kong, to let some people go democratic first?"

Turning Crisis into Opportunities

In the face of major crises or issues, the government has been able to deal with problems in a legal and appropriate manner, said the president, who listed the Sunflower Movement, the Taipei Metro stabbings, the Penghu air crash, the Kaohsiung explosions and the contaminated oil scares as incidents that have rocked society and worried the people.

"We have been working hard to turn crises into opportunities. After the joint efforts of the people and the government, we have seen actual results in infrastructure, economic growth rate, exports and record highs on the stock market," Ma said.

"Taiwan's economy has entered a positive cycle, as nearly half of our enterprises are recruiting additional employees and our manpower demands are the second highest in the world."

Vow to End Food Scares

"Just like all of the nation's citizens, I find tainted, refuse lard oil and its manufacturing to be wholly unacceptable and have asked executive departments to deal out harsh punishments to put a stop to tainted foods," said Ma.

In his speech, the president pointed out that the tainted oil scare has affected over 1,000 food retailers.

"Despite how the government has efficiently located the manufacturers responsible and the whereabouts of the products, the people have become fearful and companies have suffered losses. Because of the coverage of foreign media, the country's overall image has taken a blow that is not limited to the food industry... The government has vowed to stamp out tainted food products," Ma said.

Purchase this article for republication.