Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Taking Ma's humor seriously

Continuing his second day of a visit to Japan, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday met members of the Nikkakon and elaborated on his cross-strait policies, which include signing a peace treaty with China and bargaining with China over Taiwan's international space.

The Nikkakon is a council made up of senior Japanese Diet members across party lines that has acted as a channel between Taiwan and Japan since the severance of official ties in 1972. In an attempt at humor, Ma told the group that he chose to visit Japan now because, if elected next year, he wouldn't be able to visit as the president of Taiwan.

Ma reportedly drew a round of laughter from his dutifully courteous audience, but it is pathetic to see someone who hopes to become Taiwan's leader make light of such a serious issue.

This wasn't the first time Ma has made such a remark. In a visit to India earlier this June, Ma tried the same joke on politicians there.

True, given Taiwan's dire diplomatic problems, the Taiwanese president is unable to make state visits to countries that do not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

But with Ma alluding to this sad state of affairs in a jovial way, how can he convince Taiwanese that voting for him means bringing Taiwan a better future? How can he be a leader that fosters national pride?

Ma cannot ask Taiwanese to place confidence in him -- domestically or internationally -- if he can so casually downplay the country's current diplomatic state.

It was Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from Ma's own party who insisted on withdrawing from the UN in 1971 despite Washington's proposal of "dual representation" for Taiwan and China. As a result of Chiang's stubbornness and short-sightedness, not only did the Republic of China cede its Security Council seat to the People's Republic of China, it also led to the suffering Taiwanese experience today -- a lack of respect from the international community and a lack of dignity that stems from Taiwan's difficult diplomatic state.

If the KMT's word could be trusted, Taiwan would have long ago gained greater international space following the so-called five-point "vision for cross-strait peace" agreement reached between former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) during Lien's visit to China in May 2005.

As for signing a peace treaty with China, Ma would be well advised to look at China's diplomatic record before he buries Taiwan's future in his own wishful thinking. The record shows that China is not good at keeping promises.

Based on this evidence, Ma will need to sharpen his rhetoric before he can convince Taiwanese that he would be a better statesman than his Democratic Progressive Party counterpart.

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