On the morning of May 26, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the 58th Convention of Taiwan Lions Clubs International, where she praised the Lions for their service to Taiwan. She also said she hopes Lions Clubs members will increase their investments in Taiwan, speak out for Taiwan at international venues, and spread positive energy to power Taiwan past whatever challenges it may face.
In remarks, President Tsai said that every Lions Clubs annual convention she attended seems bigger than the one before. The Lions Clubs International now has 15 districts and more than 50,000 members in Taiwan. The strong growth of the Lions Clubs in Taiwan shows that more and more people are getting involved in community service, which is a very positive development for Taiwan, she said.
President Tsai noted that since 2017, under the leadership of Council Chairperson Wen-Pin Chiu (邱文彬), the Taiwan Lions Clubs established the Lions Clubs Taiwan Foundation (LCTF), which emphasizes "Speak up for Taiwan, and put Taiwan first." The Lions will thus be able to donate and provide assistance more effectively to help Taiwan deal with emergencies and provide social services and care for the needy. The original endowment of NT$30 million used to establish the LCTF was raised in just three short months, and total donations to date now exceed NT$100 million. The president thanked the Lions for all they've done for Taiwan, and pointed out that Taiwan Lions Clubs International does more than just donate money throughout the world. She was quite touched to learn that the organization is also planning to establish geriatric care institutions to look after the needs of elderly Lions Clubs members.
President Tsai stated that the Taiwan Lions Clubs' emphasis on "Taiwan first" means cherishing Taiwan, and exercising the power of Taiwan's people. Over the past two years, the government has worked to strengthen Taiwan. We're doing everything we can to implement reforms, and start addressing issues that previous administrations couldn't get done. It's all about making Taiwan stronger, she said.
Since last year's launch of the Long-term Care 2.0 Plan, the president said, we have expanded the range of eligible beneficiaries and added new services. Care centers nationwide, now exceed 1,500, with a three-tier classification system. Nearly 50,000 units of social housing are currently in the planning stages or under construction, and we've also just adopted a measure to increase childcare subsidies. Strengthening the social safety net makes Taiwan stronger.
President Tsai also said the government is pursuing a "5+2 industrial innovation program" designed to transform and upgrade the industrial sector. The Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program is also boosting domestic demand and economic development, and making Taiwan more competitive. In fact, projects under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program have already entered the construction phase, while the "5+2 industrial innovation program" is yielding outstanding results. The "smart machinery" element of the 5+2 program, for example, has spurred investments of over NT$1 trillion in the machinery sector, and last year alone powered an increase of over NT$100 billion in that sector's output value.
The president mentioned that Taiwan has three industries—semiconductors, flat panels, and machinery—with annual output of NT$1 trillion or more respectively. And there may be a fourth trillion-yuan industry this year, because Internet of Things (IoT) industry output last year topped NT$900 billion, with more than 7,000 startup companies engaged in IoT-related businesses established last year alone. Innovation spurred by the 5+2 program has also persuaded multinational corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Cisco to set up R&D centers in Taiwan, while major European wind power manufacturers are investing heavily in the domestic green energy sector. These developments are all extremely positive indicators, she said.
President Tsai emphasized that Taiwan's economy is improving. She's confident that the rising economy and continuing export growth, plus industrial innovation and increased domestic demand give Taiwan a bright economic future. In fact, she said, the strength of internal reforms and economic development make us confident we can deal with changing regional conditions, especially China's suppression.
The president also said that the more Taiwan pursues democratic reforms and performs well economically, the more we are valued by the international community. That fact will not change if our diplomatic allies are bought off, or Taiwan is prevented from participating in international organizations. Exchanges generated by non-government organizations still substantively raise Taiwan's international profile, as Taiwan's active presence in Lions Clubs International activities proves. China's efforts at suppression cannot quell the resolve of Taiwan's people to engage with the world.
President Tsai stated that in addition to offering her thanks and best wishes, she also wanted to ask Taiwan's 50,000 Lions to do three things. First, she asked them to take advantage of the current economic upswing by identifying industries with development potential and then investing in Taiwan. Second, she encouraged each individual Lion to get more deeply involved in Lions Club international exchange activities and service work, and work through the international Lions Clubs organization to speak up for Taiwan and make more friends to support us. Third, noting that Lion Clubs members are all pillars of their respective professions, she asked everyone—as the nation is faced with challenges—to generate positive energy, so more people will know that Taiwan has the strength to overcome any challenge.
The president emphasized that if we are clear about our advantages, show determination, and take things step-by-step, Taiwan will continue to improve and gain international approval. That's how Taiwan can engage with the world. The president called on all Lions to work together, be optimistic about Taiwan's future and strengthen Taiwan to build a better future. In closing, she wished the Convention of Taiwan Lions Clubs International great success.