During two presidential debates, two platform presentations and countless campaign rallies, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has cited a lot of numbers and figures to provide proof of his political achievements. While these figures appear brilliant at first glance, voters’ sentiment should quickly cool when a closer look is taken.
The Ma administration has repeatedly made the claim that the per capita income of Taiwanese has already reached US$20,000 a year. However, this is an income level that neither Taiwanese university nor graduate school graduates enjoy. Furthermore, many blue-collar workers who have 10 or 20 years of experience at their jobs have very low incomes and can testify to the widening income gap.
During the campaign for the 2008 presidential election, someone asked Ma whether he would be willing to donate part of his salary if he failed to realize his “6-3-3” policy — annual GDP growth of 6 percent, an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent and a per capita income of US$30,000.
Now that it has become apparent that this policy has not been achieved, Taiwanese not only find that the word of their head of state can not be trusted, Ma has also shifted the focus and says that he often donates money to “certain” charities.
There is an old saying that “a gentleman always keeps his word,” but since even Ma’s most basic credibility is questionable, it is difficult to accept all his attractive figures and flashy new slogans.
After coming to power, Ma rushed to sign the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China. Not only did he not communicate frankly with the opposition parties, he also used the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) legislative majority to push the agreement through the legislature.
There was also an atmosphere of tension and turmoil during the visits by China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林). Every national flag lining the roads Chen traveled along had to be taken down and when Ma received Chen, he was addressed as nin (您), the more polite form of the word “you,” instead of “Mr President.”
Many people were concerned and displeased. Taiwan’s democracy was earned with the blood and lives of many people. How could the nation sacrifice its dignity like this?
Since Ma became president, he has pushed for a “diplomatic truce” with China, used the name “Chinese Taipei” internationally and declared that Taiwan would apply for World Health Association (WHA) membership under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
However, an official document from the WHA secretariat still called the nation “Taiwan, province of China.” Although the large increase in the number of countries granting visa-waiver privileges for Taiwanese is a great achievement, quite a few people still suspect that these privileges might have been granted in exchange for accepting a downgrade to “Taiwan, province of China,” although the name “Chinese Taipei” is still used for appearance’s sake.
In any democratic country, if a government performs poorly it is at the mercy of the voters, who are regularly given the chance to strip it of its power. This is common in Japan and all the EU states, and Taiwan should be no exception.
Therefore, voters should not cast their ballots out of hatred or in tears on Jan. 14.