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September 21, 2017

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Mayor candidates should be judged on their policies

The son of veteran politician and former Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) should formally announce his bid to run for mayor of Taipei tomorrow, according to various media reports. But before he can run for city hall, Sean Lien (連勝文), a 44-year-old businessman, will have to compete against others in his party with similar ambitions. No matter who is eventually selected to represent the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) or the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the election, however, we (the voters) should further inquire about the improvements they are proposing for the city as well as their ability to successfully implement what they promise.

In the run-up to Taipei's mayoral election, there are five crucial issues we should keep in mind before we decide for whom we will cast our ballot, including each candidate's ability to expand the city's welfare policies, increase the average monthly wage, curb housing prices, cut down on CO2 emissions and waste of natural resources, and turn the capital into a more international city. In short, we should judge candidates based on their policies rather than their pedigree and alleged conformity to their party's respective ethics.

To begin with, the new mayor will have to strive to further expand public welfare for the disadvantaged and bring changes whenever it is possible. A good example is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Apart from receiving only a symbolic US$1 salary per year, he dedicated his efforts toward promoting public health by enacting bans on sugary drinks and e-cigarettes. On top of that, he opened a consulting company aimed at improving the situation in the municipalities on various important city indexes, including transportation, crime rate and infrastructure.

Another important policy that the new mayor will have to keep in mind is the need to increase the average wage of local workers. According to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), the real monthly wage in Taiwan stood at NT$45,112, much lower than NT$45,514 recorded in 1998.  Even though the DGBAS found that the average monthly wages over the January-October 2013 period were 15.2 percent higher than those of the same period of 1998, the country's inflation rate increased even higher by 16.23 percent during that period, offsetting the nation's wage hike.

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