During THE RECENT presidential campaign, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) caused an uproar by proposing the signing of a cross-strait peace agreement. He seems to have learned nothing from this experience because he recently sent former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) to China to propose the “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” formula to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). Ma’s rash move on such a sensitive issue without first forging a consensus between the public, political parties and legislators has once again caused debate and concern.
The aftermath of the H5N2 outbreak and controversy surrounding the import of US beef containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine continue to destabilize Taiwan, but Ma remains silent, unwilling or afraid of explaining his policies to the public and avoiding questions as much as possible. Unlike Ma, former US president Ronald Reagan was a great communicator because he was sincere when facing the public.
Ma once praised Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) as Taiwan’s “chief economic planner,” but Siew said he had not been informed about the decision to raise fuel and electricity prices. He also said that if he were the decisionmaker, he would not raise fuel and electricity prices at the same time to reduce the impact on the public.
All top government officials model their behavior on Ma’s one-man leadership. While the public were complaining over the fuel and electricity price hikes, Ma showed off his physical prowess in Africa. He may have felt good about himself, but he is unable to move and comfort the public. The first thing he did after returning to Taiwan was to advise the public to consult energy-saving experts as a way of dealing with the price hikes.
Perhaps he did not know what he was talking about. One can only wonder why, during his four years in office, he has not actively reviewed and pushed for improvements to Taiwan Power Co and CPC Corp, Taiwan, considering the amount of corruption, waste and poor efficiency evidenced in these companies.
During the past two presidential elections, Ma has played the “long stays” game in rural areas, but failed to fulfill the “6-3-3” campaign pledge he made in 2008, as well as the promise not to raise fuel and electricity prices he made in this year’s election. The public may be used to politicians at all levels failing to keep their election promises and may not take them seriously as a result, but they have much higher expectations of the president.
Although politics is a kind of performance art or clever trickery, the people detect no humility or sincerity in Ma’s performance. As public anger continues to grow steadily, voters are sure to teach the KMT a lesson in the next presidential election.
Where was Ma on the first two days of Typhoon Morakot hitting Taiwan on in August 2009? What was his attitude? Did he learn anything from that experience? On the day of the earthquake in Sichuan, China, on May 12, 2008, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) immediately flew from Beijing to Sichuan, walking to the disaster area and talking to victims in a sincere attempt to comfort them.
Ma will never be able to learn to express such heartfelt sincerity. He graduated from prestigious schools and has enjoyed a smooth rise thanks to the KMT’s support. Ma is steeped in elitist arrogance that makes him unable to feel close to the public and unaware of the importance of listening to their opinions. He also does not understand that successful policies are built on social harmony.