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Taiwan's "Double Tenth" Observed in Seoul
Hundreds of Wellwishers Attend Gathering at Shilla
The Double Tenth Day () reception at Hotel Shilla

A reception marking the 94th founding anniversary of the Republic of China was held at Hotel Shilla in downtown Seoul on Oct. 10, 2005.

More than 400 wellwishers including former Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil and members of foreign diplomatic corps in Seoul attended the event to celebrate the Double Tenth Day (), the birthday of the Republic of China.

In his welcoming address, Dr. Li Tsai-fang, representative of the Taipei Mission in Korea, said that the great solidarity of peoples of Taiwan and Korea will mark a new departure for building a Northeast Asia peace regime to accelerate the cultural and economic integration in the region involving Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.

He pointed out that visa waiver marks the start of regional integration in Northeast Asia under which the mutual waiving of visa requirement for the nationals of Korea and Taiwan became effective Jan. 25, 2003.

He also expressed hope that goodwill of Japan and Korea to ROC helps the regional peace in Northeast Asia.

Dr. Li Tsai-fang, representative of the Taipei Mission in Korea

A number of local political leaders and top foreign envoys serving in Seoul were invited to the event.

Local political leaders included Kim Jong-Pil, Kwon Jeong-Dal, Kim Joong-Kwon, and Rep. Park Ki-Tae of the main opposition Grand National Party. Kim Han-Gyeom, mayor of Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, was also in attendance.

Among the foreign ambassadors were Amb. Rene Francisco Umana of Honduras, Amb. Federico Alberto Gonzalez Franco of Paraguay, Amb. Daniel Abrego Echeverria of Panama.

Senior statesman Kim Jong-Pil congratulated Dr. Li on the national day with congratulatory speech.

In the meantime, ROC President Chen Shui-bian pledged on Oct. 10, 2005 to press ahead with further reforms during his last two years in office, saying these reforms will help bring "prosperity" and "justice" to Taiwan.

Retired senior stateman Kim Jong-Pil (right) speaks while Dr. Li Tsai-fang, representative of the Taipei Mission in Korea listens at the Double Tenth Day () reception held at Hotel Shilla.

Addressing the ceremony marking the 94th founding anniversary of the Republic of China held at the Presidential Office, Chen spoke of his great determination to carry out reform of the island's financial, tax, media and constitutional systems as well as in matters related to a controversial interest rate system that has given preferential treatment to certain groups of retirees and to recovering assets inappropriately acquired by political parties.

Although Taiwan experienced its first-ever transfer of political power between political parties in 2000, Chen said that the bursting of the dot-com bubble, the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America, and the subsequent global war on terrorism and the U.S.-led war in Iraq caused a setback for the world economy, resulting in Taiwan experiencing negative economic growth for the first time since the end of World War II.

Pointing out that in this precarious environment, his administration set "economic revitalization" and "comprehensive reform" as its top priorities, the president said the Cabinet then made efforts to deregulate economic and trade rules in order to stimulate economic recovery and create more jobs as well as a "win-win situation" for employees, employers and the government.

Chen said the tasks to accomplish economic revitalization and comprehensive reform are aimed at upgrading the standard of living of all Taiwanese, and are "not, as alleged by some, government policies that lean toward the business community or big corporations." "Wealthy people living in a poor country cannot retain their fortune for long, whereas a wealthy society that turns its back on the existence of the poor also goes against the principle of social justice and fairness, " he said.

Dr. Li Tsai-fang (third from left), representative of the Taipei Mission in KoreaThe Double Tenth Day (), poses with his guests at the Double Tenth Day () reception.

Chen also said that with the gradual revitalization of the economy and the continuing lowering of the unemployment rate, the government will adjust its priorities step by step.

Talking about financial reform, the president said that after completing the first stage of reform, the government has begun the second-stage of reform by consolidating public and private financial institutions in order to accelerate the flow of foreign investment and financial management into the island which will upgrade the international competitiveness of Taiwan's financial sector.

Although the second-stage financial reform has encountered some difficulties and there is still room for the government to improve its policies in carrying out the reform, the president said that he has requested that the authorities concerned do whatever they can to achieve the goal of reform in order to respond to the challenges of globalization that the financial sector will encounter in the future.

Concerning tax system reform, the president said that the Executive Yuan has put forward the " revised version of the Income Tax Law and regulations regarding the alternative Minimum Tax system" to the Legislative Yuan for review. "The reform of our taxation system will certainly encounter all sorts of difficulties and challenges, but the public's expectation of the realization of justice and fairness in our society provides the most forceful impetus propelling us forward," the president said.

Criticizing the so-called preferential interest rates of 18 percent given to some retired teachers, civil servants and military personnel, the president noted that ordinary workers only enjoy a pension replacement rate of pre-retirement income of only 54 percent after 30 years of work, while some civil servants enjoy a rate of over 100 percent, which he said is "unreasonable and unfair."

Dr. Li Tsai-fang (2nd from left), representative of the Taipei Mission in Korea, poses with foreign ambassadors and other VIPs.

According to Chen, relevant governmental agencies have studied possible measures to limit the amount of savings to which the 18 percent interest rates can be applied, with other potential approaches to reduce the pension replacement rate of pre-retirement income for retired military personnel, civil servants and teachers to no more than 90 percent also being considered.

"Proposals to improve our pension system will be sent to the Examination Yuan for review, and I would like to urge members of the Examination Yuan to make decisions on these proposals as soon as possible to meet the public's expectations," he added.

The president also said that many of the problems "inherited from the past authoritarian regime" have yet to be resolved.

These problems include the handling of inappropriately acquired assets by political parties and the elimination of influence of political parties, the military and government in the media, Chen said. He promised that the government will use "all possible means" to return to the people and the nation all properties seized inappropriately by political parties.

Touching on the legislature's delay in deliberating on bills concerning the release of government-owned shares in media organizations, the president called for related government agencies to continue to work on the legislation of these bills and on eliminating completely the influence of the government in the media by appropriate means and within the time limit mandated by the revised Broadcasting and Television Law.

Admitting that the minority government has been continually hampered in trying to implement various reforms in the nation since he took office in 2000, the president said that this proves that the Constitution's deficiencies "constitute the greatest resistance and impediment to our reform projects."

"Our current constitutional system is one that does not provide the mechanism to effectively deal with political stalemate, and one that has rendered our nation and our government idling in a state of incessant quibbling, " he also said, adding that "in order to strengthen good governance and upgrade our nation's overall competitiveness, we must continue to make headway in comprehensive constitutional reforms."






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