Thu, Jan 12, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Thanks for nothing, Mayor Ma

"Thank you [for your comments and suggestions]," was Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) initial reply when approached for comment after it was revealed that Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), who enjoyed strong backing from Ma ahead of last month's local elections, had reportedly spent more than NT$1 million (US$31,180) on decorating his new office.

"Thank you [for your comments and suggestions]," was Ma's response when he was mobbed by reporters earlier this month after KMT Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利), who also received Ma's endorsement in the run-up to the elections, was summoned for questioning by prosecutors over his alleged involvement in real-estate fraud.

So it came as no surprise when Ma, approached for his response to Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) remarks that the KMT should announce the buyer of its three media outlets, said: "Thank you [for your comments and suggestions]."

While some may regard such responses as a gesture of modesty, the public deserves to hear more than just "thank you" from the leader of the country's largest opposition party.

As someone who has his heart set on winning the key to the Presidential Office in 2008, the public deserves to know what Ma really stands for, and what his views are on a number of public issues.

Ma has been the darling of the local media for the longest time. He has been pampered by them, in fact.

In the latest example of this, a bare-chested Ma was shown soaking in a hot spring with some fellow Taipei City Government officials in a bid to promote the hot-spring industry in Taipei City's Peitou (北投) District.

Although it is a noted fact that there are hordes of Ma fans among the nation's female reporters, endless footage of the shirtless KMT chairman is way too much exposure. Not to mention the so-called political commentators who attempt to beautify Ma's conduct and rhetoric on TV talk shows.

With the around-the-clock media bombardment on how "charming" Ma is, it is no wonder that the premier has warned his party not to underestimate the "Ma Ying-jeou phenomenon" that is being promoted by the KMT-friendly media.

In a recent interview with Newsweek, the KMT chairman said that the KMT's eventual goal in cross-strait relations is unification.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank, merely 6.6 percent of respondents support Ma's talk of unification, whereas nearly 89 percent said that the decision should be left to the Taiwanese people as a whole. The same survey showed that nearly 66 percent expressed support for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) idea of tightening the government's management of cross-strait economic relations.

The survey suggested that although Ma and the Ma-obsessed media might attempt to manipulate the public's impression of him, most people are not being fooled.

Many pan-blue supporters are hoping that Ma will lead the KMT back to the Presidential Office at the 2008 election. However, before Ma attempts to prove that he has what it takes to become president two years from now, he should prove that he has the guts to shoulder the responsibility for his own conduct and rhetoric by starting to make responsible comments and stop hiding behind his well-worn response of "Thank you [for your comments and suggestions.]"

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