Vice presidential candidates battle on education and low wages

by Matthew Strong

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Vice presidential candidates Jennifer Wang of the Kuomintang, Chen Chien-jen of the Democratic Progressive Party and Hsu Hsin-ying of the People First Party-Minkuotang ticket fired accusations at each other Saturday about responsibility for educational reform and for low wages.

After a first round in which they presented themselves and a second round in which they answered questions collected online from the public, the three candidates in the January 16 election fired questions at each other during a third round.

Wang came under fire for the economic doldrums during the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou, in which she served as labor minister from 2008 to 2012.

Hsu asked her about the “22K,” the NT$22,000-a-month salary for young people which has become a symbol of the Ma era. Wages fell back to levels not seen since 1999, while unemployment reached peaks.

Wang disclaimed responsibility for the fact, saying she had never designed a policy that included wages of 22K for young people. She recommended the policy of giving employers tax breaks in return for higher wages, and expressed the hope that in the future, 40K would become the norm.

The KMT candidate accused former Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh, a frequent supporter of DPP causes, of being responsible for the failure of education reform. Chen replied that the reform program was the result of work by many committees, and that equal rights and equal access to education were the key element.

Hsu said that no matter who was responsible, education reform had been a disaster which had caused pupils to suffer ever more pressure.

Chen asked Wang how she felt about the KMT replacing its female presidential candidate, Legislative Vice Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu, by the party’s chairman, Eric Liluan Chu, last October.

Wang replied that she fully supported female politicians, but that apart from gender, experience and empathy with woman’s causes were even more important.

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