TAIWAN: A new political party to promote basic income is under preparation
(Photo credit to: Lonely planet – Taroko Gorge, Taiwan)
A political party in Taiwan, called the Basic Welfare Party (formerly known as the Taiwan Republican Party) includes the basic income as a core policy. The groundwork for the party is still being established as of January 2017. The BWP was initiated by members of Taiwan Global Basic Income Social Welfare Promotion Association and Yu Hua Zhai charity vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan. The party’s goal is to promote constitutional, legislative and judicial reform. With these goals, the BWP hopes to contribute to the realization of a country that acknowledges the importance of social welfare and the law, ensuring the right to a minimum livelihood through the establishment of an unconditional basic income for all people. As of January 2017, the BWP does not yet have a chairperson and is seeking individuals to fill the role.
One important figure in Taiwan is Dr. Tien-Sheng Hsu, Taiwan’s Family Medicine and Psychiatrist medical doctor as well as the Seth mental and physical clinic president. On June 5, Dr. Hsu spoke about Switzerland’s movement for the referendum on a basic income in a public speech. When discussing the basic income policy, Hsu said that hypothetically if he were the president of the Republic of China, he would give every citizen 30,000 New Taiwan Dollars (NTD) per month. In the same speech, he claimed that independence and reliance must forever be actively interwoven. In some ways, reliance allows our creativity to flourish. Because of this, Hsu said that if everyone’s basic security was taken care of with 30,000 NTD, then people would be more willing to take risks to achieve their ideal careers or life.
On June 8, Dr. Hsu and a doctor of international relations, Dr. Xinyi Ma, hosted the talk show “Voice of A-Sheng” which discussed international and domestic Taiwanese news from the perspective of mental and physical health. This program also brought up the Switzerland referendum on basic income. Dr. Hsu and Dr. Ma discussed the possibility of the people of Taiwan launching its own basic income referendum.
Dr. Hsu and Ma wondered whether such a referendum would pass in Taiwan, but Hsu said he approved of the essence behind Switzerland’s proposal, which was to guarantee a basic standard of living for every person. Dr. Hsu also said an important consideration is how such a basic income would be funded in Taiwan.
On several occasions, Hsu seemed to joke that he should become the President of the Republic of China so he could give 30,000 NTD to every citizen. It us unclear if Hsu is serious about his presidential aspirations or if the comments were meant to illustrate the effects of a hypothetical basic income.
During the program, Dr. Hsu and Dr. Ma also analyzed the topic of unconditional basic income from a psychological perspective. They maintain that “You create your own reality.” They defend that, when people go back to their inner state of grace, with their basic survival guaranteed, they feel protected by love, wisdom, mercy, creativity and the magical power of the universe. Dr. Hsu and Dr. Ma begin with the premise that every person’s existence is loved, every person in the universe is cherished. From here the whole society is then built, letting our humanity gain greater degree of freedom within. They say that if most people move in this direction, perhaps the social system we desire could really be built. Take the people from Switzerland, Finland and Holland: these are regions from which the Taiwanese people can learn from.
According to Dr. Hsu and Dr. Ma, if the idea of the basic income does not bring in our inner-selves, but rather employs the violent power of government, then it has again been distorted. Thus we must create the basic income from within, rather than from extrinsic pressure that makes everyone adhere to a certain system. So, Dr. Hsu and Dr. Ma urge, let’s use our intrinsic nature to embark on this endeavor. We can then achieve the feeling of inner richness and, in a state of grace, the proper external reforms will follow.
Editors note: The above article was revised on January 23, 2017 to add context about the nature of Dr. Hsu’s comments and included links to the original speeches. The article was also updated to reflect the current status of the Basic Welfare Party and to reflect the name change of the group from the Taiwan Republican Party.
Written by Juku Shenguang: Founder, Vice-president and Secretary-General of Taiwan Global Basic Income Social Welfare Promotion Association
Translated by Tyler Prochazka
Reviewed by André Coelho and Kate McFarland