Listening to and serving the people
Listening to and serving the people

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) led more than 100 people, including high-level government and DPP officials, on a hike along a historic trail on Yangmingshan on Sunday. The hike was meant to encourage officials and politicians to get out of their offices and listen to the people. Chen stressed that governance is not for personal fame and status, nor is it for power. Rather, he said, it is for the enhancement of the people's welfare.

Listening to the people's voice and enhancing their welfare is the most fundamental path of governance. But the government has not paid attention to the people's voice in some recent policy-making decisions. Chen reiterated that point during the hike, a point that the administration would do well to heed.

Ever since last year's mayoral elections, the KMT and the PFP have been preparing for next year's presidential election. While paying lip service to the nation and her people, the two parties are nevertheless willing to sacrifice justice for the sake of power and self-interest. Ignoring shrinking domestic industries and rising unemployment, both have called for the lifting of more of the restrictions on investments in China. Obviously, the welfare of the people is not their real concern.

The people expect the government to take a firm position on the nation's status and on cross-strait reforms. But some of the government's measures have a negative impact on industry and employment. If the authorities want to listen to the people and enhance the people's welfare, then they should be alert to such issues.

For example, Chen said recently that direct cross-strait transport links do not involve just national security issues. They also raise questions about the acceleration of capital outflow, rising unemployment and whether industries will continue to "keep their roots" in Taiwan.

Chen said that once direct links are opened, the nation might become like Hong Kong, where large numbers of the territory's residents spend their weekends in China, thereby seriously affecting local industry and tourism. He stressed that people should not merely hype the advantages of direct links, but should mention the disadvantages as well. This indicates that Chen is clearly in the know.

Some government agency heads, however, have been making one-sided appraisals that only highlight the good points about direct links. Such decision-making contravenes mainstream public opinion.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) once said that Taiwanese businesses are helping China develop its economy by investing massively there, but what Taiwan gets in return is Beijing's blockade on her leaders and officials visiting foreign countries.

Some officials, however, are still not alarmed. They plan to allow further business migration and capital outflow on a massive scale. They even want to give away 8-inch wafer foundries to China, which would speed the development of that country's high-tech industry and its economy. Inevitably, China will become more capable of developing missiles and other advanced weapons to be used against Taiwan.

Chen should remember that public opinion surveys have repeatedly shown opposition to the government's decision to further ease restrictions against China, open direct links, or allow the move of 8-inch wafer foundries. We call on the government not to be as short-sighted as some businesspeople, nor sacrifice the interests of this nation and her people. Chen should demonstrate his resolve by replacing those financial and economic officials who have proven to be unfit for their positions.