Wed, Jul 06, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan is in need of real leadership

By Jerome Keating

Ma’s credibility was further called into question after he boasted that with his flexible diplomacy, Taiwan was making progress in gaining international space, particularly in its participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA). This proved to be a sham when an internal WHO memo revealed that Taiwan had actually been expressly demoted last year to “province of China.”

Why was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asleep at the wheel about this year-old memo? One has the impression secretly the ministry knew its content, but hoped it would not become public knowledge. When it did, Taiwan’s US and EU allies protested this maltreatment much more vigorously than Ma’s health minister, who ended his weak protest with an expression of gratitude for being granted participation under this sham.

Ma’s increasing lack of credibility goes back as far as 2005, when he promised that he would sell the KMT’s stolen state assets; this has yet to be fulfilled. As for the few that were sold, the KMT still kept the money instead of returning it to the people.

In 2005, Ma also promised he would secure arms sales to defend Taiwan, but in the following three years, the KMT used their majority in the Legislative Yuan to block arms bills more than 60 times. In the following four years of Ma’s presidency, there still has been no progress. The Hong Kong-born Ma’s desire to protect Taiwan appears to be another sham.

Finally, Ma’s thinking is last century. He has come up with no new ideas. He relies on the so-called “1992 consensus” that even his own people admit was a fabrication. He has tried to return Taiwan’s negotiations with China to the KMT’s party-to-party dealings with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of the previous century.

Despite having every advantage when entering office, Ma has squandered Taiwan’s opportunities. Never has so much promise produced so few results.

Ma’s leadership is constantly reactive and not pro-active. With incompetent staff, his government is constantly putting out fires.

Bottom line: Taiwan needs new thinking. It needs to look to the next generation, the next step forward, new leadership and a new and committed Taiwan-centric focus.

Taiwan has had four years of mediocre stagnation under Ma, so is Taiwan better off than it was four years ago? Not by a long shot; Taiwan cannot afford four more years of the same.

Jerome Keating is a political commentator in Taipei.

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