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Premier seeks dialogue with younger generations

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday that through the recent student movement, he has seen how the Internet has shaped the operation of democracy, noting that he also realized he needs to create more opportunities to talk with the younger generation regarding policy-making and public affairs.

Jiang said the younger generations utilized the latest communication technology to connect with like-minded strangers and “transformed” their opinions into demonstrations.

Noting that the student movement “forced” the government to value the utilization of Internet technology, Jiang said he has already requested the Executive Yuan strengthen the use of Internet-based media and collect public opinions via the Internet.

The premier said the student activists demanded that the government be more transparent with information and allow citizens to participate in the process of policy-making. “We can't say the government did not do what the citizens' wanted, but given that so many people participated in mass rallies for their demands, the government does need to seriously face the citizens' demands,” he added.

Jiang went on to say that in the past, the government would invite academics, experts and industry leaders, but students were seldom invited to express their opinions in public hearings due to the idea that the government believed they would only be concerned with educational policies.

The premier said that, however, through this student movement, the government realized that the younger generation actually pays a lot of attention to public affairs.

“In the past, the government did not particularly value the younger generations' opinions regarding policy-making, but in the future, the government should and will listen to the young adults' opinions,” Jiang said.

The premier said he used to be a teacher at a college and he had chances to communicate with students directly. However, after devoting himself to the government, he has not had as many opportunities to talk with students over the past few years.

Jiang said he will increase the communication with Taiwan's young adults, and not just with university students. He said he would also like to talk with young adults who received their diplomas within the last 10 years. He said he already requested the Ministry of Education's Youth Development Administration to sketch further details of his idea.

The premier further explained that he would like to plan a series of talks on college campuses to communicate with students face-to-face, noting that instead of talking he would rather answer more questions and listen to more opinions raised by students.

Cabinet's Trade Pact Priority

Jiang said there is no reason for him to be pessimistic about the progress of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement in the Legislative Yuan, because society has other voices apart from those protesting against the pact. He said the Cabinet still hopes the Legislature can pass the agreement as soon as possible.

When asked by reporters if the government will consider signing a Cross-Strait Trade in Goods Agreement first and talk about the service trade pact later, Jiang said there is no such consideration.

Jiang went on to say that perhaps people will feel a sense of urgency after South Korea signs its own free trade agreement with mainland China, but the government cannot wait and will not stop the service trade pact from taking effect.

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