President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was re-elected with both overt and covert help from Beijing and Washington. Now he is rushing to implement several unpopular and controversial polices before his inauguration on Sunday. He is pushing an easing of the ban on imports of beef containing residues of the feed additive ractopamine, put aside a proposal for a tax on the wealthy, demolished homes in the name of urban renewal — thus allowing developers to manipulate the real-estate market — and even pledged his loyalty to China by proposing a “one country, two areas” (一國兩區) policy.
At the same time, the fuel and electricity price increases have triggered retail price increases. As the public suffers the effects of inflation, Ma, surprisingly, said people complain because they do not understand economics. Faced with such an ignorant and arrogant government that still says it feels good about itself, the public has good reason to withdraw its support and demand that Ma step down immediately.
What is the legitimacy behind our demands that Ma step down? Simply put, dissatisfaction with Ma is supported by a general consensus transcending party lines and opinion poll differences. According to the results of a poll released by the Taiwan Brain Trust in the middle of last month, Ma’s approval rate stood at 18 percent and his disapproval rate stood at 73 percent. The results of another poll conducted by pro-Ma broadcaster TVBS were quite similar, showing an approval rate of 22 percent and a disapproval rate of 61 percent. Early this month, the results of a poll conducted by the Chinese-language Apple Daily also showed that his approval rate had further dropped to 15 percent, with a disapproval rate of 71 percent.
Ma claims to be pushing for greater reform in his second term, because the pressure of running for re-election is gone. However, he hopes to make a concession to the US on the beef issue, pledged loyalty to the enemy through the “one country, two areas” statement and has even “robbed” his own people by raising fuel and electricity prices. Are these his great reforms, moves that humiliate the nation and damage its sovereignty and the people’s livelihood? The facts are there for all to see. His administration is completely out of control and the damage that this unpopular government could inflict on us will not differentiate between pan-blue and pan-green — it will affect us all.
Ma may be a directly elected leader, but even so, if he acts recklessly and ignores public opinion and public hardship, it really is another kind of tyranny. On Sunday, all Taiwanese should take to the streets to manifest our anger and dissatisfaction in action, and to shock the government. Taiwan is standing on the edge of a cliff and if we cannot restrain him, the out-of-control Ma will drag us down with him.
Sherry Huang is a director of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Eddy Chang