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President Ma Ying-jeou's National Day Address

Reform, Innovation and the Pursuit of Justice

Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng, Sao Tome and Principe
President Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Danny
Philip and Mrs. Philip, Honorable Elizabeth F.Y. Renner, Speaker of the National
Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia, delegations from around the world, members
of the diplomatic corps in the ROC, Vice President Vincent C. Siew, Presidents of
the Five Yuan of the ROC, distinguished guests, compatriots from overseas, fellow
citizens, journalists, and friends watching television:

Good morning to you all!

The bond between the ROC and Taiwan

Today we celebrate the grand occasion of the 99th National Day
of the Republic of China. As we commemorate the sacrifices and contributions made
by the revolutionary idealists of yore to save a nation in peril, we are keenly
aware that we must dedicate ourselves to the historical mission of building on past
accomplishments to create a brighter future.

The course of the ROC's development has been a winding path full
of difficulties. Everyone in Taiwan is both a participant in and a contributor to
that development. We have warded off Communist China's attempts at invasion and
ensured the security of Taiwan and the Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu islands; we have
striven energetically to progress, making it safely through several global economic
crises. On this piece of land we have toiled hard, instituting local self-governance
and universal education, building a strong national defense, and creating the dual
miracles of a prosperous economy and a democratic political system. These are achievements
unsurpassed in the Chinese-speaking world, for which reason we are deeply proud
of Taiwan.

Today, we continue to grow and develop on this land. We share
a collective destiny and embrace a common dream. We cherish Taiwan and identify
with the Republic of China. We wish the best for Taiwan and want the ROC to flourish.
Next year will mark the Republic's centennial. Let us celebrate the birth of our
nation together and create for it a more resplendent second century.

Doing what it takes to push reform

My fellow citizens: Since the second rotation of power between
political parties two years ago, the most important missions of this administration
have been reform, innovation and the pursuit of justice. The isolationist policies
and corruption of the previous administration caused a great deal of damage to Taiwan,
so we must boldly pursue thoroughgoing reform without delay.

Over the past two-plus years, this administration has pushed
forward with a number of groundbreaking reforms touching upon society, the economy,
education, environmental protection, national defense, cross-strait relations, and
foreign affairs. Our goal has been to improve Taiwan in every respect—to create
a brand new, more competitive Taiwan.

Taking governmental re-engineering as an example, we have acted
to reduce the executive branch from 37 to 29 Cabinet-level ministries and commissions.
This is a project that previous administrations over the past two decades wanted
to do but could not accomplish. We are accomplishing it.

We have increased the number of our special municipalities to
five by merging and upgrading several counties and cities, and have scheduled elections
for them with the aim of achieving balanced development in northern, central and
southern Taiwan, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of cities and boosting regional
economies. This is another momentous reform that we have succeeded in doing.

Some say that promoting reform will offend vested interests and
cost election votes. I cannot go along with that way of thinking. Taiwan is now
in a race against time. We cannot put off reform for the sake of winning elections.
Were we to do so, we would let down our people as well as generations to come. We
have a well-informed public. I believe that only reform can secure our future, and
that by securing our future we can win people's hearts.

My fellow citizens: The world is changing rapidly. Taiwan must
recognize the importance of economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region and
the economic rise of mainland China. We certainly cannot afford to play the ostrich
by burying our heads in the sand.

Over the past two years and more, we have improved cross-strait
relations and pushed for peace and prosperity while expanding our participation
in international affairs. The commencement of direct cross-strait flights and visits
by mainland Chinese tourists to Taiwan has coincided with resumption of our participation
in the World Health Assembly, from which we had been absent for 38 years, and our
accession to the Government Procurement Agreement of the World Trade Organization
after earlier bids to do so had failed for six years. Further, in our relations
with the United States we have re-established high-level trust, resumed important
arms purchases, and re-started talks on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
As a special partner of Japan, we established a new representative office in Sapporo
last December and are scheduled at the end of this month to inaugurate two-way flights
between Songshan Airport in Taipei and Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Elsewhere, travelers
with ROC passports now enjoy visa-free entry to the United Kingdom, Ireland, New
Zealand, and Fiji. The European Parliament, moreover, has adopted resolutions in
support of Taiwan on numerous occasions, and we have successfully advanced substantive
relations with other friendly nations.

In addition, we have concluded 14 agreements with mainland China.
Each one is premised on the principles of parity, dignity and reciprocity, and puts
Taiwan first for the benefit of its people. Throughout this process, we have staunchly
defended the sovereignty and dignity of Taiwan.

The Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA)
that Taiwan and mainland China inked this June came into force on September 12.
It is the most important cross-strait agreement in the past two years, a milestone
in economic cooperation between Taiwan and mainland China. We have not opened up
to mainland laborers or allowed additional agricultural import items but, instead,
have created more business and job opportunities for our agricultural sector as
well as our traditional manufacturing and service industries. The early harvest
provisions of the ECFA could generate fully 60,000 job opportunities and NT$190
billion in business for Taiwan. This course of action puts us in position to join
in the process of Asia-Pacific regional economic integration. We have averted economic
marginalization and accelerated the internationalization of our economy.

My fellow citizens: Our pragmatic policies in handling cross-strait
relations and foreign relations have won the international community's strong affirmation,
and the efficacy of government reforms has begun to show. The Directorate-General
of Budget, Accounting and Statistics of the Executive Yuan has forecast that our
economy will grow by 8.24% this year, among the best performances in Asia. Of the
world's top 30 trading nations, we had the highest import growth rate and the second-highest
export growth rate in the first two quarters of this year, demonstrating that we
have begun a robust economic recovery following a recession that lasted for over
a year.

Over the past year, the number of employed people has increased
by 285,000, and in August the unemployment rate dropped to 5.17%, the first time
in 19 years that it decreased in that month. The average salary has increased as
well, manifesting the growing vigor of our labor market.

Thanks to our policies of liberalization and deregulation, Taiwan's
competitiveness has made great strides. In the 2010 World Competitiveness Yearbook
released in May by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management
Development, Taiwan ranks as the eighth most competitive economy among the 58 countries
surveyed, up 15 notches from the previous year. This is Taiwan's best performance
in the survey in 16 years, and we are confident of doing still better in the future.

Taiwan's economic recovery is the fruit of the collective efforts
of all its people. This government has considerable room for improvement, however,
in its handling of various social and environmental problems as well as educational
and judicial reform issues. We must humbly listen to the voice of the people, and
strive constantly to do better. I will persist in pursuing reform and move boldly
forward in order not to betray the public's trust.

Meeting public expectations with concrete action

Issues concerning disparities of wealth, environmental protection,
educational reform and judicial reform have recently become the focus of intense
public scrutiny. Here, I would like to stress that the core principle of this administration
is the imperative to build a just society, and I promise that with regard to any
issue pertaining to social justice, environmental justice or judicial integrity,
we will take active steps to meet the expectations of our people.

Narrowing the wealth gap

The wealth gap in Taiwan has been widening for the past decade,
reflecting an imbalance in wealth accumulation. Taiwan's economy is making a rapid
recovery, to be sure, but if the fruits of economic development cannot be shared
by all, what is the point of economic growth, however fast it may be?

The pursuit of economic growth, while important, is no more than
a means to an end—the end being to build a just and prosperous society with egalitarian
distribution of wealth. I therefore wish to stress that, from now on, strategies
for Taiwan's economic development will not focus exclusively on growth, but absolutely
must place equal importance on growth and fairness. In other words, as we boost
economic growth, we must devise means to alleviate the problems of unemployment
and poverty.

This government will do all in its power to adjust industrial
structure, increase employment opportunities, expand social welfare benefits, and
look after the needs of vulnerable groups. At the same time, we must also continue
to promote tax reform. Putting it simply, the government will definitely not sit
idly by and leave impoverished families with nowhere to turn to for help. Wherever
there is poverty, our government must give caring attention and extend a helping

Balancing economic and environmental concerns

My fellow citizens: Last year's Typhoon Morakot disaster caused
the loss of more than 700 precious lives. This government has taken to heart the
bitter lessons of that experience. For over a year now, we have dedicated ourselves
to post-disaster reconstruction work and reorganization of disaster preparedness
systems. At the same time we have pushed for central and local government agencies
to carry out disaster preparedness and relief drills. We are working to raise the
level of vigilance at all levels of government and society in the hope that tragedies
of this nature will not recur.

Last month as Typhoon Fanapi approached, our central government,
armed forces, police and fire departments, and local governments at all levels were
fully mobilized to prepare for disaster. To minimize the damage, they first evacuated
more than 16,000 people from risky areas. If the more than 100 people of Laiyi Village
in Pingtung County had not been evacuated in time, for example, there may have been
a replay of last year's Xiaolin Village tragedy [in which hundreds of lives were
lost in a landslide]. This again demonstrates the correctness of our strategy, in
the face of extreme, ever-changing weather conditions, to emphasize disaster preparedness
over disaster relief, and evacuation over other preparedness measures; to hope for
the best, but prepare for the worst; and to prepare for disasters in advance, deploy
troops with an eye to disaster preparedness, and ensure readiness for rescue operations.

A number of issues have given rise to controversy over the question
of environmental protection versus economic development. Some of the more notable
disputes concern the Academia Sinica biotechnology park, the Central Taiwan Science
Park environmental impact assessment, and Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Company's
development plans. From the perspective of our nation's sustainable development,
equal importance should be placed on environmental protection and economic growth.
But in the event it is judged that economic development will severely impact or
damage the environment, environmental protection should take priority. The severity
of possible impacts or damage should be determined by scientific, rational assessments.
Though we must pursue economic growth, it is even more important to protect our
environment and health.

More comprehensive concern for our land is therefore essential.
Priority must be given to the restoration and preservation of environmentally sensitive
areas, including important agricultural land, mountain forests, wetlands, grasslands
and rivers, as well as of cultural heritage sites and scenic areas. At the same
time, we must improve the industrial structure as well as the current environmental
impact assessment system, incorporating them as essential aspects of national land
planning. With the goal of sustainable development of the nation's lands in mind,
in the future this government must pay greater attention to people's opinions concerning
the development or expropriation of land, show greater concern for the land, and
take a long-term perspective so as to ensure sustainable development.

Deepening educational reform

My fellow citizens: Children are our hope for the future. I pledge
to expedite efforts to forge public consensus and create the necessary conditions
to institute 12-year compulsory education. First, we will start compulsory education
a year earlier so that all five-year-olds can attend kindergarten tuition-free.
We already began with offshore islands and remote areas this year, and will expand
the program next year to cover the whole nation.

Furthermore, we absolutely must not neglect impoverished and
disadvantaged children. Through reallocation of educational resources, we must revamp
learning environments that are not beneficial to them and help them acquire effective
knowledge and skills from their schools so they can rise above poverty. We definitely
must ensure that impoverished children have the same opportunities as others to
realize their life's dreams.

Spearheading participatory judicial reform

Bribe taking by judges, the quality of court verdicts and the
efficiency of judicial processes have recently been the focus of sharp public criticism.
We believe that the judiciary must of course be independent, but it must not be
isolated from society or behave in a manner contrary to reasonable expectations
of the public. The judiciary must be able to protect law-abiding citizens. This
is the most fundamental standard of justice.

Future judicial reform must be participatory in nature. It should
be undertaken from the perspective of ordinary people, with an understanding of
what the public expects of the judicial system, and with empathy for the suffering
they must undergo in the litigation process. A new Judicial Yuan president and vice
president have been installed. Together with the minister of justice and the prosecutor-general,
who took office half a year ago, they constitute a new judicial team. I am confident
that this team will be responsive to public expectations and play an active role
in participatory judicial reform.

Government agencies will also work together to re-examine relevant
regulations and legal procedures, improve the quality of court verdicts, enhance
efficiency, and institute a friendly court environment. They will also expedite
the passage of a Judges Act and establish mechanisms for evaluating the performance
of judges and prosecutors, with an eye to keeping the good, eliminating the corrupt,
and re-establishing the public's trust.

Our plan to establish an anti-corruption agency demonstrates
our determination to eliminate and prevent all manner of corruption. This administration
is committed to eradicating criminality. We absolutely will not compromise with
the forces of corruption.

Human rights protections are another important aspect of judicial
integrity. In May of last year, we ratified two United Nations human rights covenants—the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights—and are now actively working to amend any
domestic laws and regulations that may run counter to the standards set out therein.
To further promote the development and protection of human rights and basic freedoms,
I hereby announce the establishment of a Human Rights Consultative Committee under
the Office of the President. Vice President Siew will chair the committee, and is
in charge of setting it up. The committee will be composed of both public officials
and private citizens, who will discuss and develop human rights policies and issue
regular human rights reports, so as to raise the level of human rights in Taiwan.

Promoting cross-strait relations, expanding international participation

Fellow citizens: We have recently seen great improvement in relations
between Taiwan and mainland China and a marked relaxation in cross-strait tensions.
Mainland authorities have recently mentioned the possibility of removal of missiles
aimed at Taiwan. We feel this has a positive significance for cross-strait relations
and hope that it becomes a reality as soon as possible.

Of course, our hopes for Taiwan's security cannot rest solely
upon improvements in cross-strait relations. Thus, it is our necessary and unchanging
policy to develop our independent military capabilities while continuing to import
weapons of a defensive nature that we cannot manufacture ourselves. We will also
continue to boost multilevel cross-strait economic, cultural and social ties, building
confidence and resolving differences, so as to maintain lasting peace across the
Taiwan Strait.

The Republic of China is a country with independent sovereignty.
We conduct relations with mainland China under the framework of the ROC Constitution
and on the basis of the “1992 Consensus.” Although at this stage the two sides of
the Taiwan Strait cannot accord de jure recognition to each other, we nevertheless
should be able to pragmatically adopt a policy of de facto “mutual non-denial.”

The people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are ethnic Chinese—“descendants
of the legendary emperors Yan and Huang.” As the two sides pursue closer cross-strait
ties, we hope to also expand cooperation with mainland China in the international
sphere. We want to avoid antagonism and gradually develop a virtuous cycle of mutually
beneficial, win-win interaction.

Taiwan is a full democracy. Any agreement that we sign with the
mainland must receive public support, and is subject to parliamentary supervision.
At the same time, we will maintain the cross-strait status quo of “no unification,
no independence and no use of force” under the framework of the ROC Constitution,
uphold the principle of putting Taiwan first for the benefit of its people, safeguard
the Republic of China's sovereignty, and maintain Taiwan's dignity.

In the future, we will continue to strengthen cooperation with
all of our diplomatic partners as well as other nations, including the United States,
Japan, countries in Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia and European Union member
states. We will actively seek to participate in international organizations and
their activities and, in the spirit of humanitarianism, provide aid to developing
partner countries. This administration is committed to enhancing the ROC's international
status and, with a pragmatic and flexible approach, will actively work to sign free
trade or economic cooperation agreements with our trading partners—all with the
aim of building up Taiwan while linking with the Asia-Pacific region and deploying

Here, I would like to stress that the ROC plays four roles in
the world: first, as a peacemaker; second, as a provider of humanitarian aid; third,
as a promoter of cultural ties; and fourth, as a creator of new technologies and
business opportunities. Though our territory is small, our aspirations are ambitious.
We look forward to integrating with the world community. We are eager to take on
the challenges of globalization, and hope to make contributions to the international
community. We want to win respect for the ROC, and be the type of country that stirs
people's hearts.


My fellow citizens: The people who live on this piece of earth
have never meekly bowed to fate. We have managed to grow amid adverse circumstances
and, step by step, realize the ideal of a democratic republic as envisioned by our
founding father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Looking to the future, we are full of confidence
and optimism!

Democracy and freedom have come to define the spirit of Taiwan.
A rich social diversity has made Taiwan's culture and lifestyle a “benchmark” for
Chinese communities around the world. Many of Taiwan's young people have become
international standouts in the areas of academics, sports, art, cuisine, design
and invention. We see embodied in them Taiwan's potential, Taiwan's confidence and
Taiwan's hope.

Fellow citizens: The ROC centennial is just around the corner.
The story of the first century of the Republic opened against a background of social
upheaval, but our nation went on to record extraordinary achievements through peaceful
development. The ROC's second century will kick off with a “golden decade” prelude.
Now, we begin to write a brand-new chapter.

This is the responsibility we undertake in remembrance of our
ancestors and national martyrs, as well as our promise to our children and future

In closing, please join me in shouting: Long live the Republic
of China! Long live Taiwan's democracy! Thank you.

【Source: Office of the President】