With the end of the Lunar New Year holidays, government organizations and private companies have all gone back to work with new hopes for the future. For both the nation and individual members of the public, this is a new start, full of hope and tough challenges. We hope this year can be better than the last.
The challenge will be to create better conditions this year than last year. These conditions are of two types — conditions for the nation as a whole and conditions for individuals. The direction of the overall conditions will influence the conditions for individuals, and the government’s job will lie in flexibly using policy tools to control variables in the overall environment as well as providing each individual with support and opportunities to develop.
If the government can fulfill these responsibilities and roles, it will become a driving force for development and Taiwanese industry will benefit. If, however, the government fails to set the correct goals and even becomes an impediment because of bad decisions, Taiwan will be dragged down and find it hard to escape stagnation and internal strife. Therefore, the big issue is government leadership, and on this front, skill and an overall direction are key.
If we analyze our government from this perspective, before the Lunar New Year, one of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) confidants said: “All problems get back to economic issues.”
This implies that by gaining control of economic indicators, all problems can be solved. During the Lunar New Year holiday, Ma traveled around Taiwan handing out red envelopes to people, and he never strayed from this stance.
Ma stated this year’s policy goals clearly when he said: “The government still needs to work hard to ensure that our citizens can make big money.”
Basically, Ma said all Taiwan’s problems boil down to economic issues. Then he narrowed the meaning of economic issues to “make money.” He does this for one populist reason: to cater to the short-term wants of people to gain what political hacks want most — votes.
We need to give the government a bit of advice: “It’s not the economy, stupid! It’s leadership!”
So why aren’t Taiwan’s current problems purely economic in nature? If we look at the “political achievements” Ma kept telling everyone about during the Lunar New Year holiday, Taiwan’s GDP growth rate last year was almost 10 percent, GNP per capita reached almost US$20,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 4.67 percent as of December.
We have to admit that these are some impressive statistics. Now, if Ma had done such a good job, his reelection should be a foregone conclusion. So why, then, did he feel it necessary to travel around Taiwan to meet voters throughout the holiday?
When a nation’s leader tells everyone about “making big money,” we cannot help but feel Taiwan is being pulled back more than two decades to the times when the cover of a US magazine referred to Taiwan as “Greedy Island.” When did we have this ugly image applied to us again? One in which all we care about is making money and nothing else. We must ask ourselves whether things are improving or deteriorating.
Focusing on such shallow -matters in the midst of the Republic of China’s (ROC)100th anniversary is a sign of moral decay and this is a very sad state of affairs. The level of Ma’s understanding is lagging far behind the understanding of the average Taiwanese. Ma is holding everyone back, so how can he talk about leadership?