United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 30, 2016
Executive Summary: The government handover is at hand. The DPP is about to cut electricity rates and eliminate national holidays. This makes the situation particularly interesting. When the DPP was out of power, it could preach loudly from atop a high horse. Now that it is in power, it must balance goals and means, ideals and reality. The DPP is about to ascend the throne. It should put away its empty opposition era boasts. Electricity rates and labor issues provide two touchstones.
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Key Tsai Ing-wen policy aide Chang Ching-sen recently launched an attack on the Ministry of Economic Affairs, demanding that it suspend electricity rate cuts. But even DPP legislators do not support Chang's demand. They intend to rate electricity rates on schedule. Also, the Ministry of Labor is cutting mandated working hours, and simultaneously cutting seven national holidays. Labor groups have launched protests. Therefore the Legislative Yuan does not intend to investigate, and has temporarily put the proposal on hold. These two controversial proposals were hastily withdrawn. Perhaps just as well. Tsai Ing-wen can deal with them after May 20.
"Wait for the Democratic Progressive Party to deal with them after it takes over" is not necessarily a joke. For starters, it is consistent with political responsibility. The DPP must state its policy, and bear all responsibility for them. Next, this will prevent them from advocating two sets of standards. When the DPP is out of power, it trumpets one set of standards. But if the DPP does an about face after it is in power, it will have a lot of explaining to do to voters.
Chang Ching-sen demanded that the Ministry of Economic Affairs suspend electricity rate cuts. Party insiders and outsiders alike hold differing opinions on this. That of course does not mean Chang's proposal has nothing to recommend it. In fact, Taipower's financial status and rate structures are distorted. Allocating billions to solve long-term problems, or improve air quality with new energy sources, may be more desirable than a rate cut. The problem is that given Chang Ching-sen's status, the manner and timing of his proposal was inappropriate.
Consider his status. The old and new governments are in transition. Every current official has his counterpart in the new regime. Chang Ching-sen considers himself Tsai Ing-wen's chief policy official, possibly even her new premier. He visited current Minister of Economic Affairs Teng Chen-chung to discuss the matter on his own. Internally he may have committed a faux pas. Externally, he may have violated the current minister's authority. Consider his manner. The rate cut is based on Legislative Yuan resolutions and rate formulas. Chang Ching-sen did not even bother to study the matter with the party caucus. He attempted to show off by riding off on his own. Instead he merely revealed his ignorance about how the system works.
Consider his timing. The Taiwan Power Company announced the April rate cut some time ago. The public welcomed the move. Chang Ching-sen objected to the rate cut only a few days before it was scheduled to go into effect. He gave neither the ruling and opposition parties, nor the public any time to react. He launched a crude sneak attack. Consider the inappropriateness of Chang's move. The DPP has repeatedly condemned Taipower for inept management. The DPP disregards countless losses suffered by the company. Instead it calculates electricity rates according to an overly simple formula and is demanding lower rates. Now Chang Ching-sen is openly demanding that rate cuts be suspended. The DPP now appears as if it is repeatedly flip-flopping. Chang Ching-sen's call to delay rate cuts is not altruistic. Tsai Ing-wen promised "no rate hikes for a decade". Chang is trying to make it easier for her to fulfill her promise. But he is ignoring the feelings of the people and government decision-making due process.
Currently, rates are reviewed every six months. Once the DPP comes to power, if it wants higher prices to compel public energy conservation, it can reevaluate rates in October. By then, Tsai Ing-wen's new energy policy may be incorporated into the rate formula, as part of broader planning considerations. Of course, Chang must remember to consult DPP legislators, and be prepared to sell his proposals to the public.
Labor fought for national holidays. Now the ball is back the DPP's court. Eliminating seven national holidays is mainly an accommodation. Labor wanted “two days off every week” changed to “40 hours a week”. In fact, the same issue arose 16 years ago, when the DPP came to power for the first time. It raised a hue and cry and got “two days off every week”. Now the problem has returned. To obtain two days off every week on behalf of labor, the KMT must eliminate national holidays. Will the DPP offer a clever solution?
Take a close and impartial look at the recent DPP draft of the "National Holiday and Holiday Implementation Regulations". Eliminate the days that the Ministry of Labor would "commemorate but not take off", including Teacher's Day, Taiwan Retrocession Day, and Chiang Kai-shek's Birthday, seven altogether. The two parties appear to have reached an understanding. Moreover, Tsai Ing-wen once blurted out, "There are too many holidays!” She frequently met with industry in an effort to revitalize the economy. If she is bent on economic revitalization, how can she shower benefits on labor by giving them seven days off? Labor's attitude is also worth noting. Suppose the KMT had eliminated seven holidays, wouldn't that be characterized as “exploitation”? But now that the DPP is doing it, will labor resist it to the bitter end?
The government handover is at hand. The DPP is about to cut electricity rates and eliminate national holidays. This makes the situation particularly interesting. When the DPP was out of power, it could preach loudly from atop a high horse. Now that it is in power, it must balance goals and means, ideals and reality. The DPP is about to ascend the throne. It should put away its empty opposition era boasts. Electricity rates and labor issues provide two touchstones.
2016-03-30 01:36 聯合報 聯合報社論
但此議連民進黨立委都不支持，降價決定如期實施。與此同時， 勞動部調降法定工時案同時刪除七天國定假日，因勞團發動抗爭， 立法院不予備查而暫擱。這兩項爭議，與其倉促拉扯， 不如等蔡英文五二○上任後自己面對處理。
這樣更符合「責任政治」的精神，自己要的政策自己說清楚， 後果自己負；二則，也可以避免兩套標準， 民進黨在野時談的是一套標準，執政後若要改變方向， 必須自己向選民說清楚。
並不表示他的想法絕不可取。事實上， 以台電財務狀況和電價結構之扭曲， 這數百億元若用來解決長期性的問題， 乃至保留作為改善空汙或發展新能源之用， 都會比降價花掉更具綜合實效。問題是，張景森的提法，從角色、 時機和正當性各方面看，都顯不恰當。
而張景森自恃「蔡英文政策辦公室執行長」和可能的「新閣員」 身分，逕自找現任經濟部長鄧振中商談此事，對內有僭越之嫌， 對外則侵犯現任部長職權。何況， 電價調降是根據立院決議和電價公式而來， 張景森並未和黨團研商此事即逕自行動，顯示他有個人英雄式作風， 卻缺乏體制觀念。
民眾對此大表歡迎；而張景森卻在降價實施前數日提出異議， 完全未留給朝野討論及社會反應的空間，這是對民意的突襲， 委實過嫌粗暴。就正當性而言，民進黨屢屢痛責台電經營不力， 且不顧台電虧損累累而僅依簡單的發電成本算式要求降價； 如今張景森卻公開力阻電價下調，造成民進黨立場反覆的印象。 再者，張景森提出緩降的大道理其實也不無私心， 主要是蔡英文承諾過「十年內電價不大漲」， 他意在為她爭取實踐承諾的空間， 卻忽略民眾感受和政府決策的正當程序。
若覺得應以高電價督促民眾節能，可以在十月重新思考調漲。屆時， 不妨將蔡英文的新能源政策精神灌注到公式中， 作更宏觀的規畫調整。當然，也別忘了先徵詢民進黨立委意見， 並作好說服民眾的準備。
現在球也又回到了民進黨手裡。國定假日減少七天， 主要是伴隨勞動時數由「雙周八十四小時」減為「每周四十小時」， 所做的同步調整。相同的議題， 其實在十六年前民進黨首次執政時即有過一番叫價，才得到「 雙周八十四小時」的變形工時；如今問題捲土重來， 為使勞工皆得以週休二日，國民黨必須刪減國定假日， 民進黨會不會有高明的解決辦法？
不偏不倚，也悉數刪除了勞動部認定「只紀念不放假」的教師節、 光復節、蔣公誕辰等七個國定假日，彷彿雙方已有默契。再說， 蔡英文曾脫口說出「勞工假太多」，她又頻頻拜會工商企業， 顯露旺盛的拚經濟企圖。如果一心拚經濟， 又要大手筆多給勞工七天假，她有可能達成目標嗎？此外， 勞團的態度也值得觀察，如果國民黨刪七天國定假日就是剝削， 那麼換成民進黨做，是不是會抗拒到底呢？
格外值得玩味。在野者可以大唱理想主義的高調， 執政者則必須講求目標與手段的平衡、理想與現實的折衝。 民進黨即將登上執政的寶座，它也要收拾自己在野時誇下的海口， 電價和工時議題可謂提供了兩塊試金石。