It’s interesting to observe how an individual’s mentality is unconsciously reflected through their comments and actions.
As an example, let’s revisit dialogues that recently took place between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and a student, as well as between former Democratic Progressive Party chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and another student, in which they were separately asked similar questions.
On May 4, during a visit by the president to National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, a student told Ma in reference to a recent increase in retail prices that he does not feel full now after eating one biandang, or lunchbox. The student said typical lunchboxes these days tend to contain less vegetables even though their prices have remained the same. In response, Ma asked: “You don’t feel full? So now you need to eat one more biandang? Or do you endure being hungry?”
Fast-forward to Tuesday last week, when Tsai took questions from the audience at the same school after she delivered a speech.
Among the questions, she was asked: “What happens when a biandang can’t keep me full?”
“You should speak out if you don’t feel full,” Tsai replied. “That way, the people in power would hear not only the voices of the rich.”
Many found the strikingly different responses amusing that is, if they did not bemoan how far apart Ma and Tsai are in their attitudes toward the difficulties that ordinary people face.
While some praised Ma for being practical in his response, others lamented that he missed the point and that he lacked understanding for the plight of ordinary people.
Tsai, meanwhile, struck on a key point: the need to speak out.
Speaking out is the most direct way to let the national leader know the status of his or her people.
In a democracy, public officials are elected to serve the people, not the other way around, and the president, more so than any other official, should be even more humble, and be responsible, heed the public’s grievances and hardships and be responsive to people’s needs and sufferings.
Even before his second-term presidency has begun, the Ma administration faces an outpouring of public anger over its maneuverings to relax the ban on US beef containing traces of ractopamine, as well as its so-called reform initiatives, such as the decision to allow steep increases in fuel and electricity prices and the introduction of a capital gains tax on stock investments to address tax fairness.
Ahead of Ma’s inauguration for a second term on Sunday, here’s a word of advice for the president and all those officials who will serve under him: Open your ears to people’s voices.
In light of mass protests scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday to voice discontent with the Ma administration, it is to be hoped that the president, rather than shutting out the “noise” — as the public witnessed on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei yesterday, where a dozen protesters were rounded up by police before they could deliver their appeal to the Presidential Office — would be humble and be reminded that it was his administration which created the situation that prompted the public to take to the streets in the first place.
Can the people’s voice reach the president’s ears and can their plight be heard? We will have to wait and see.
The National Immigration Agency on Monday confirmed that the majority of foreign residents in Taiwan would once again be excluded from the government’s stimulus voucher program. The NT$5,000 Quintuple Stimulus Voucher would be available to 140,000 foreign spouses of Taiwanese and 16,000 Alien Permanent Resident Certificate holders, but about 870,000 Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) holders would be excluded from the program, regardless of whether they pay taxes. The government has not offered any explanation, but some have speculated that the intention is to prevent migrant workers from receiving the vouchers. Many migrant workers are from Southeast Asian countries and work as
Within the span of a generation, a new super-rich class emerges from a society in which millions of rural migrants toiled away in factories for a pittance. Bribery becomes the most common mode of influence in politics. Opportunists speculate recklessly in land and real estate. Financial risks simmer as local governments borrow to finance railways and other large infrastructure projects. All of this is happening in the world’s most promising emerging market and rising global power. No, this is not a description of contemporary China, but rather of the US during the Gilded Age, from about 1870 to 1900. This
Local media reported earlier this month that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) criticized President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for referring to China as a “neighboring country,” saying that this is no different from a “two-state” model and that it amounts to changing the cross-strait “status quo.” I find it quite impossible to understand why civilized Taiwan continues to tolerate the existence of such a deceitful group that believes its own lies. The relationship between Taiwan and China is the relationship between two countries, and neither has any jurisdiction over the other — this is the undeniable “status quo.” Those who believe in the
On Thursday, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — a regional economic organization whose 11 member countries have a combined GDP of US$11 trillion. That is less than China’s 2019 GDP of US$14.34 trillion, so why is China so eager to join? China says there are two main reasons: To consolidate its foreign trade and foreign investment base, and to fast-track economic and trade relations between China and member countries of the CPTPP free-trade area. China’s bilateral trade with these countries grew from US$78 billion in 2003 to US$685.1 billion last year, mostly because of China’s 2005