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April 30, 2017

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Lawmakers accuse premier of being 'puppet'

The China Post --Premier Sean Chen struck back against the accusation that he is nothing more than a marionette for President Ma as lawmakers raised questions over his policies, claiming him to be a "puppet leader" at an interpellation session at the Yuan Sitting, yesterday. "I do not agree with those words," Chen sternly said multiple times.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) questioned the Cabinet's decision to postpone the monthly minimum wage hike, stating that it was actually President Ma's decision, accusing Chen of being merely a puppet. "President Ma should donate half his salary for making multiple empty promises," she said.

Chen demanded the lawmaker take back the words, explaining that the premier ratified the decision and he holds full responsibility over the outcome. The minimum wage hike draft bill was the result of a consensus reached at a review committee commissioned by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) between professionals from the business, education, labor and government sectors.

The Cabinet approved late last month the CLA's proposal to raise the minimum hourly wage from NT$103 (US$3.5) to NT$109 next year, but decided that the monthly wage will remain unchanged at NT$18,780 until the country's gross domestic product grows to over 3 percent for two straight quarters or when the unemployment rate drops below 4 percent for two consecutive quarters.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) questioned the abilities of the review committee, asking if the committee should be disbanded. The premier explained that that was not the case. "According to law, the Cabinet is obliged to ratify what the committee has drafted. The Cabinet needs to understand and weigh many different factors during the ratification process before officials make the finalized decision," Chen said.

Premier Sean Chen and other government officials were also grilled by lawmaker Cheng on whether they would donate their year-end bonuses. With "will you donate or not" repeatedly aimed at them, government officials swerved from giving direct responses. "Government's efforts failed to reflect the general public's lack of economic advancement, while Chen Yi-chen's donation showed her sincerity over the issue," Cheng said.

The remark was made after National Youth Commission Minister Chen Yi-chen (陳以真) said a day earlier that she will donate her year-end bonus to help Taiwan's disadvantaged youth and social welfare organizations.

In the face of the lawmaker's questioning, Premier Chen said that his donations did not necessarily originate from his year-end bonus because the bonus was only given out at a certain time every year. "I am donating throughout the whole year. I don't need to wait for the end of the year to donate," he added, "I respect the officials for their usage of their bonuses."

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