City's mayor calls for more flexible govt reforms

Mr Lin Chia-lung is seen as a potential candidate for the 2020 or 2024 presidential election. He is seeking re-election in next year's local polls.
Mr Lin Chia-lung is seen as a potential candidate for the 2020 or 2024 presidential election. He is seeking re-election in next year's local polls.PHOTO: NG SOON KIAT

Touted as a potential presidential candidate in the 2020 or 2024 polls, Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung said that the central government can be "more flexible" in the way it implements its reforms.

While he said that the reforms are moving "in the right direction", it is understandable that there is a lot of debate in how issues are dealt with, and his Democratic Progressive Party has some good ideas.

Among them is a revised labour Bill which has raised business costs by more than 5 per cent for labour-intensive industries and left workers with fewer holidays after axing seven statutory holidays, stoking public anger.

Controversial pension reforms, to be implemented next year, have also angered many retired civil servants, teachers and military personnel, who will have a smaller monthly pension payout.

Taking the heat from his own constituents, Mr Lin said that he and lawmakers are pushing the central government, which is now being led by DPP rising star and new premier William Lai Ching-te, to be more flexible and tweak the Bill.

"The aim is still to give people more rest, but I think we need to give more businesses and employees more wiggle room... Not every business is the same and cannot be dealt with in the same way."

Mr Lin, who says he will be seeking re-election in next year's local elections, said he is not too worried about people's unhappiness with President Tsai Ing-wen's administration. Recent polls showed that he only has less than 30 per cent approval rating.

"Change cannot be achieved overnight. We are doing what we think is right," he said. "We cannot please everyone and need to take responsibility. People will eventually see the positive outcome."

Jermyn Chow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'City's mayor calls for more flexible govt reforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe