As President Ma Ying-jeou’s first anniversary in office approaches, his election promises that there would be “immediate prosperity ” and that “the stock market would zoom to 20,000” have proven to be jokes. But the Taiwanese people are not laughing, since, as the statistics show, Ma and his KMT, which ruthlessly criticized the DPP government’s performance for eight years, have brought profound misery to the Taiwanese people in one short year.
1. Immediate Prosperity? No. Highest Misery Index in 27 years. The high unemployment and inflation rates in Taiwan have produced a Misery Index, which combines these two indices, of 7.67 % the highest since the second Oil Crisis in 1982. (Source: Executive Yuan’s own Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics)
2. Immediate Prosperity? No, February attempted suicides set a record. While February usually has the lowest number of attempted suicides, with the unemployment rate in Taiwan continuing to climb during the recession the number of reported suicide attempts in February 2009 jumped to 2,076 from last year’s 675. The 2009 figure is the highest ever
(Source: Department of Health, Executive Yuan)
3. Immediate Prosperity? No, two meals a day for children in unemployed families Taiwanese have a saying, “When things are tough, at least spare the children.” However, with the unemployment rate of lower-income families as high as 20 percent, the result is that 20 percent of the children only get two meals a day, 32 percent of them cannot afford tuition fees, 35 percent cannot afford extracurricular activities, 44 percent cannot afford taking lessons and learning skills they are interested in, and, due to financial hardship, 35 percent choose not to go to a doctor when sick.
(Source: Children’s welfare advocate NGOs)
4. Immediate Prosperity? No, 70,000 people can no longer afford the national health insurance plan
According to March 2009 statistics, as many as 70,000 people could not afford to keep their health insurance plan, double last year’s number. . People’s health right has thus been strongly affected.
(Source: Bureau of National Health Insurance, Executive Yuan)
5. Immediate Prosperity? No, domestic violence cases rise 10% As the unemployment rate climbs, people are under greater stress with the result a rapid increase of cases of domestic violence. According to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, domestic violence cases reported in 2008 jumped to 79,874, 10 percent more than the previous year. The rate of increase for children and teenage victims jumped to 21.4 percent from 14.2 percent in 2005.
(Source: Ministry of Interior Affairs)
6. Immediate Prosperity? No, business and factory shut downs highest since 2001 The impact of the recession has shut down numerous businesses and factories in 2008. The number of business units decreased by 9,047 in 2008 (out of a total of 1,178,882 units). This is the highest since the dot-com bubble burst in 2001. (Source: Ministry of Economic Affairs)
7. Immediate Prosperity? No, income decline among the worst in history Workers in Taiwan not only have had to face the threat of unemployment, but also of lowered wages and forced unpaid holidays. The average net salary declined by 3.13 percent in 2008, the biggest decline since 1980. The rate of decline this January and February alone reached 12.18 percent.
(Source: Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics of Executive Yuan)
8. Immediate Prosperity? No, household debt increased by NTD 106,000
Ma Administration economic policies, such as shopping vouchers and massive public infrastructure investment, have raised the government debt level to 8,090 billion NT dollars, resulting in an average increase of 106,000 NT dollars of debt added to every household in Taiwan.
(Source: Parliamentary Office of Pan Meng-An)
9. Immediate Prosperity? No, Mental Health Index reaches historic new low
The dual impact of the financial crisis and poisoned milk from China has produced an unsatisfying low Mental Health Index of 80.1 in 2008. More than 43 percent of the people in Taiwan are pessimistic about the future, a 12 percent increase over 2006.
(Source: Mental Health Foundation)
10. Immediate Prosperity? No, more than 850,000 need student loans
The government’s failure to revitalize the economy has also affected students and their right to education. Banks in Taiwan estimate a 10 percent increase in student loan applications this year. The Ministry of Education has also estimated that the total number of student loan applications will hit more than 850,000.
(Source: Ministry of Education)