With January’s presidential election approaching, it is only a matter of time before government agencies and officials launch a public relations blitz to trumpet the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s record.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called for extra firepower for his re-election campaign yesterday by asking governmental agencies to increase their use of Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) in their promotions.
Policies that enhance public welfare and happiness should in any case be well-publicized so recognition can be given to the dedicated public servants who have worked to boost the nation’s standing and well-being.
However, it is a different story if the performance and policies of agencies and officials come across as more fiction than fact. It is despicable for a government to use taxpayers’ money to propagate lies in an attempt to sway public opinion — or when it only thinks outside the “Han box” and uses Hoklo or Aboriginal phrases at election time.
First case in point: The public was treated to a TV spot and ad in May produced by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) lauding Ma’s China policy as the “right remedy” that “safeguards the Republic of China’s [ROC] sovereignty.”
The ad’s tag line was: “Be the Taiwanese that walks through the front door with an air of confidence.” Before that, it took a swipe at the former Democratic Progressive Party government by saying that the Ma administration had ended “the turbulence three years ago.”
It is dumbfounding to note how easily the council lies through its teeth, talking about upholding the nation’s dignity when the truth is that the Ma administration’s China policy has led to the WHO referring to Taiwan as a province of China.
Another case of half truths was Ma’s touting of his modus vivendi policy, which the president has lately been mentioning at almost every public occasion to give himself a pat on the back.
Fond of using that phrase to plug his China policy, Ma says the diplomatic cross-strait truce he proposed has meant that Beijing has not poached any of Taipei’s diplomatic allies since he took office and the number of countries offering visa exemptions to Taiwanese has increased to more than 100 “without China’s opposition.” It is also because of his modus vivendi approach that Taiwan was able to take part in the WHO’s General Assembly as an observer and that Chinese tourists are able to visit Taiwan and boost the economy, he says.
What Ma does not say is that it was China’s nod that allowed Taiwan to take part in WHO meetings and it was Beijing’s “benevolence” that allowed some Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan.
Here’s food for thought: What has Ma done for China that prompted Beijing “not to oppose” Taiwan’s efforts to gain more visa-waiver agreements?
Rather than counting up all the items Ma lists as his administration’s achievements, it may be more realistic to credit them to Beijing, since he has really only been acting as its agent.
That being the case, it begs the question: What can truly be counted as achievements by the Ma administration when it comes to issues relating to the nation’s sovereignty and dignity? Unfortunately, not much, considering the lack of support and initiative shown when Taiwanese need the government’s help — as amply demonstrated in the cases of Taiwanese fishermen taken captive by pirates and taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君) being wrongly accused of cheating at the Asian Games held in China.
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