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Civil servants should vacation more: former premier

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) during a speech at the Examination Yuan yesterday urged civil servants to take more vacations, explaining that taking leave allows people to take a break and see issues with clearer minds.

The Examination Yuan yesterday invited Chen to deliver a speech to public servants on United Nations' Public Service Day. During the speech, Chen said people in general think that it is a good thing for civil servants to work as hard as possible and that they should not take leave too often.

Chen said that in fact it is a very bad thing for public servants not to take vacations. The former premier further said that no matter if a civil servant is a high-ranking official or not, anyone who serves the country should take a break once in a while.

Chen went on to explain that taking vacations does not suggest that civil servants “lose their train of thought” for a while. “You have to get rid of those ideas that tie you so tightly and then make space for new ideas to come in,” he said.

Having vacations allows people to think of things from different perspectives, Chen said, noting that if officials do not take breaks, it is hard to expect them to come up with groundbreaking solutions to the issues they face.

Chen said that when he served as the premier, he could not find time to take vacations, adding that when he finally had time to take a break, it was nearly time for him to resign.

When asked by local reporters if the president and the premier should set examples for civil servants and take vacations, Chen responded by saying that it is necessary for the president and the premier to do so. “If they do not take vacations, their subordinates will not dare to take leave,” he added.

Chen on the Role of Public Servants

Chen said he encourages young adults to participate in national affairs and devote themselves to serving the country as public servants, noting that he also notices that there are a lot of private training schools for national examinations.

Chen said it is a wrong and dangerous thought to encourage young adults to take the national examinations to become civil servants just to pursue a stable and “easy life” in the future.

The former premier said that for people who wish to become civil servants, they should consider the position as a vocation and not just a “job,” adding that civil servants should ignore their own interests and strive to preserve the rights of the public.

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