Shen Fu-hsiung criticizes both candidates in Taipei mayor race

Former legislator Shen Fu-hsiung, who recently announced his withdrawal from the campaign for mayor of Taipei City, lashed out at the two remaining candidates in the race Wednesday. “Want to know the pH of a liquid?” asked Shen. “Then dip a piece of litmus paper in it, and right away you know the acidity!”

Shen proposed his own version of a litmus test to gauge the ideas and courage of Sean Lien and Ko Wen-je, the candidates for the KMT and the consolidated opposition in the campaign. He said the two men should be pressed for their opinion on Shen’s proposal for a tax on luxury residences in the city. Unfortunately, he said, Lien and Ko are not the least interested in the issue of a tax on luxury residences, and they do not want to subject themselves to such a litmus test.

Shen said he can understand Lien’s attitude. Lien cannot live in a sumptuous apartments with a name that has the word ‘Palace’ in it like some TV show hosts do, because then he would get off work at one ‘palace’ (the mayor’s office) and go home to face his neighbors at another ‘palace’. He was not quite so sure about Ko’s attitude, said Shen:, two days ago the NTUH physician blared, "wealth should not be inherited!" So why, asked Shen, won’t Ko take this small step?

Shen Fu-hsiung has not abandoned his efforts on behalf of luxury taxes. He said that he has spent a few years examining Taiwan's economic woes and how economic restructuring and industrial upgrading can help address problems like high unemployment and low wages as well as the brain drain and outflow of capital that are hampering economic development in Taiwan.

Shen says that as the first step in working to improve the financial and monetary environment, the following three things should be carried out within three to five years: first of all, tax reform - the rich must pay taxes; second, pension reform – the next generation should not be hobbled by today’s aging population; and third, do not artificially try to block appreciation of the NT dollar – doing so could affect the assets of the entire population, including salaries, and gut the kinetic energy that normally brings transformations in industry.

Shen admitted that only the president can accomplish the latter two of these three tasks, and the next president, regardless of whether his or her surname is Chu or Tsai, will probably not be able to do so either. Thus the only one that a city mayor might be able to achieve is the first one, and it can be done legally and with no need to change the laws. Someone who bought a luxury apartment ten years ago would have earned enough to pay a 1.2% luxury tax for 60 years.

Shen said, "Unfortunately I cannot be mayor, and Lien and Ko seem to be completely indifferent to this small matter. Maybe we should tell the citizens of Taipei to wake up and say on their Facebook pages, if you don’t support the idea of a tax on luxury apartments, you won’t get my vote!"