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Ma, Jiang seek to meet students on campus
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-16 11:27 AM
Deeply rattled by the Sunflower student movement and the three-week-long occupation of the Legislative Yuan that paralyzed a large segment of the government and focused the attention of the nation on communication problems between the government and the people, President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah have announced that they will visit a school campus on Sunday to engage in a dialogue with students and other members of the younger generation.

Ma had originally been scheduled to appear Thursday at Academia Sinica to participate in a forum on "A New Theory of Multiple Perspectives on Tiaoyutai" with academics. Word of the event reached the Black Island Youth Front, one of the smaller groups involved in the Sunflower movement, however, and activists quicly began making preparations to show up at the event.

With that, school officials opted to avoid unnecessary conflict by calling off Ma’s participation in the forum. Presidential spokesperson Garfie Lee later told reporters that the Presidential Office is still considering whether or not Ma will make the trip to the institution.

Ma Ying-jeou told members of the KMT legislative caucus Tuesday that "now is the most difficult moment for this party." He called for a re-examination of the party’s organization, publicity, new media department and other facets of the party’s workings as well as studies of issues of interest to the youth of the nation. The party needs to understand the Internet culture better and pay more attention to the concerns of the younger generation, he said, so it will be able to gauge the pulse of society and take advantage of younger and more innovative ways of thinking.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah elaborated on Ma’s comments, saying he has long wanted to visit schools to talk with students. He said he would like to engage in a dialogue with current students as well as those who have graduated in the past ten years or so to discuss their experiences in looking for jobs and settling into a work routine as well as setbacks they may have encountered along the way. I would like to meet people "from all walks of life, maybe employees of large companies as well as owners of their own small businesses," he said. Jiang revealed that he has instructed the Ministry of Education and its Youth Department to begin planning of a number of pro-active programs for young people around the island.

Jiang supported the idea of talking with students on campus, noting that topics for discussion should include more than just the trade in services agreement. He said topics can cover student rights, tuition and living accommodations as well as job hunting and employment, housing policy, parenting issues, Taiwan’s aging population and other social matters. He noted that students should be allowed to express their opinions on political and business subjects like cross-strait relations and Taiwan’s industrial development. The purpose of all this, he said, is to let young people speak out about their country's future and their concerns for society.

The premier noted that the student movement showed many people that students today are aware of and concerned about many things in the outside world. "They are not what a lot of people have said about them, they are not indifferent to social issues like so many of the so-called strawberry generation."

He added that "the government got a clear message on how public policy should be formulated. Even if some things do not appear to be directly relevant to younger students, we should still solicit their views."

Jiang noted that many people also saw how Internet technology impacted the student movement and what was happening in the streets. It was a factor in the occupation of the Assembly Hall of the Legislative Yuan as well as the attempt to take over the Executive Yuan, he said.

In the past, he concluded, the government relied more on traditional media channels to get its message across to the public and paid very little attention to the political potential of new media. After the events of the past few weeks, however, "I have asked all the major ministries to greatly enhance promotion and discussion of new media policies and to canvass more people for ideas and opinions."

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