When former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) was still the premier, he once stayed overnight at the Military Academy in Kaohsiung during a visit to Kaohsiung and Pingtung. As he arrived, he told the school’s president, Hsu Li-nung (許歷農), that he had not had dinner yet, but that the kitchen only needed to prepare a bowl of “fried rice with egg” for him. He led a simple life because he worked as a miner in Russia when he was young, and Taiwanese still remember his simplicity.
Taiwan’s retail prices surged in 1973 due to the oil crisis connected to the Arab-Israeli War. In June of that year, then-minister of economic affairs Sun Yun-suan (孫運璿) announced 11 measures to stabilize prices, while freezing both fuel and electricity prices. Sun grew up in poverty and experienced the chaos of war and so he was truly capable of comprehending economic hardship. In contrast, while Ma often talks the talk, he does not walk the walk.
Just like Ma, NBA player Jeremy Lin (林書豪) also graduated from Harvard University, but he displays very different characteristics. He graduated with a major in economics and a minor in sociology and likes to participate in community services and help the disadvantaged. The name Harvard comes from the school’s first benefactor, minister John Harvard, and Lin also hopes to serve as a minister someday to give back to the community. Despite his fame, he always gives credit to his team and coach. This is a show of humility and sincerity that can hardly be compared with Ma’s behavior.
There is a saying in Taipei’s political circles that “Ma has no friends.” He only believes in himself and cares too much about his charisma and historical legacy. He does have a few close aides, but he has no allies or friends who give him frank advice. Moreover, he cannot see that he is losing the public’s approval. His pride and arrogance have blinded him from seeing his faults and this is his biggest failing.
Johnny Shieh is an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing and Distribution Management at Kao Yuan University.
Translated by Eddy Chang