What would the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government do without former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)? It’s hard not to ask that question after a recent volley of Chen-centered excuses by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his officials.
Addressing the host of problems and scandals that have embarassed the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, including the poor facilities and overflowing toilets, Ma said it was Chen and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government that failed to maintain the facility properly during its eight years in power.
Commenting on the recent slew of environmental disputes, including controversies over the Dapu (大埔) farmland seizure and the fate of Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology’s proposed petrochemical plant, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said they were the fault of Chen’s government for giving them initial approval.
Speaking on the state of the economy, Ma again accused the Chen administration of stalling Taiwan’s development.
Chen has clearly become a convenient scapegoat for the Ma administration, even though Ma is well over two years into his presidency.
While there may be some truth to Ma’s and Wu’s criticisms of Chen and his administration, Ma, not Chen, is the head of state, and the KMT, not the DPP, is the governing party.
In case it hasn’t come to Ma’s attention, he was elected because people were dissatisfied with Chen’s governance. Ma was voted into the Presidential Office because people thought he could change things for the better, not so he could shirk responsibility by blaming everything on the former administration. Meanwhile, much of his “can-do” image came from claiming full credit as Taipei mayor for the many projects initiated by his predecessor — Chen.
Whatever happened to Ma’s pledge that the KMT — being the party holding both executive power and a majority in the legislature — would shoulder the “full responsibility that comes with complete governance”?
Not to mention that Chen has paid the price, with ongoing detention, a tarnished reputation and lawsuits that continue to plague him.
Ma is so busy trying to score points against the former administration that he appears oblivious to his own administration’s spotty record thus far.
For starters, the latest statistics from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics showed the nation’s richest 20 percent of households earned 8.22 times as much as the poorest 20 percent, the highest gap recorded since 2001.
The unemployment rate reached a peak at 6.13 percent in August last year, and average salary growth, meanwhile, dipped to its lowest point ever last year at minus 3.47 percent.
Government statistics also show that the number of notifications of suicide (encompassing actual and attempted suicides) last year in February, the month usually regarded to have the fewest cases, totaled 2,076 — 675 more than what was recorded in the same month in 2008 under Chen. The number of reported cases of domestic abuse also increased in January last year by 8.9 percent over the same month in 2008 under the DPP administration.
Statistics show that elementary and junior high school students unable to afford school lunches totaled 120,000 in 2006, 140,000 in 2007 and 170,000 in 2008, before surging to 226,000 last year.
Ma can point the finger all he wants at Chen and the DPP administration, but the numbers speak for themselves on the performance of his own government.