President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) touts himself as being thrifty — as vouched for by his long-time barber and a cobbler, who in a recent campaign advertisement extolled Ma’s thriftiness.
In the TV spot, the barber described Ma as an easy customer who never makes special demands on how he’d like his hair styled.
The cobbler spoke of Ma’s frugality, saying he has been patching Ma’s worn-out shoes for more than two decades, adding that he had repaired some of Ma’s shoes five or six times, and that he had also repaired Ma’s swimming trunks.
Being thrifty is indeed a virtue, so the campaign ad was designed to depict Ma as a politician who does not waste money and is down-to-earth.
However, when politicians are portrayed as overly virtuous and eulogized by certain media outlets, they tend to strike the wrong chord with voters.
How often does one hear stories of a person wearing the same suit for 10 years and using the same blanket for 34 years, as Ma recently claimed on his Facebook page?
Any ordinary person would have at least two suits to alternate, or more for people who are better off, not to mention Ma, who — according to a report on the assets of public figures released by the Control Yuan in March — has bank deposits of NT$70.62 million (US$2.33 million), among other assets.
Is there really a need for a person of Ma’s affluence and status to propagandize compliments on his thriftiness?
However, after spending NT$215 million (US$7.1 million) to produce a two-night run of the rock musical Dreamers and millions more on fireworks to celebrate the Republic of China’s centennial, as well as NT$10 billion on the Taipei International Flora Expo, it appears the Ma administration is not quite so thrifty when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money.
The president made that clear last month when he footed the bill — using money from the state affairs fund, not from his own pocket — for a purchase of about 5 tonnes of persimmons, ostensibly to help the ailing agricultural industry.
Ma’s so-called “thriftiness” is selective: He is a penny-pincher when it comes to spending his own money, but a spendthrift when it comes to taxpayers’ money.
Moreover, despite the nation’s financial plight, the Presidential Office, saying it needed to give the president “more space to help the disadvantaged,” increased his discretionary fund from NT$30 million to NT$40 million a year after he was inaugurated.
With Ma’s support rates slumping according to several recent media polls, it appears the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has launched yet another campaign aimed at eulogizing Ma’s thrifty traits.
The Taiwanese public does not care how many old pairs of shoes the president repairs and swimming trunks he has patched; what people care about is whether Ma, as a national leader, has what it takes to give them a better standard of living.
And how brazen is Ma’s re-election campaign office to paint the president as being frugal when the nation’s debt has doubled from NT$1.2 trillion when the Democratic Progressive Party governmnet left office in 2008 to NT$2.4 trillion three years later?
Russian President Vladimir Putin is an expert at bluffing and keeping the West on its toes, pushing relations to the edge before pivoting without warning. However, hemmed in and fuming, he is deadly serious about being heard on Ukraine. Those close to the Kremlin said that the Russian president does not want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he is ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the NATO in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia. After years of disillusionment
At a time when China continues its assertive policy toward its neighboring countries, the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Bhutan last month to resolve a longstanding border dispute. However, this is not the first time China and Bhutan have taken such efforts on this issue. Over the years, China has expanded its claim over territory in Bhutan. China claims over 764km2 of Bhutan’s territory, which includes Doklam, Sinchulung, Dramana and Shakhatoe in the northwestern region and the Pasamlung and Jakarlung Valleys in the central part of Bhutan. Although the two sides held
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) sixth plenary session has ended and from all appearances, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has set the stage to rule for the rest of his life. Some might be tempted to declare that this calls for Xi to do a victory lap, but all is not well on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. To parody a line from Ya Got Trouble, a song from Broadway musical The Music Man: “There’s trouble in River City, (aka, Beijing). Trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with C for CCP.” Why? Taking control of a nation is always much
Among the voices expressing concern for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (彭帥) over the past two weeks, one was barely audible — that of her long-time former doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇). Following their defeat in the WTA Finals championship match in Mexico on Nov. 18, Taiwan’s Hsieh and her Belgian partner Elise Mertens fielded questions via a Zoom call. Chinese state media had just released an incredibly suspicious e-mail, purportedly from Peng, and Canadian tennis Web site Open Court broached the issue. With the entire tennis world chiming in, seeking Hsieh’s opinion seemed obvious. However, the Web site’s reporter prefaced her question