All governments need to win the support of the public and to take actions that benefit both the public and the nation. They cannot just sit around chanting slogans. This is especially true for a government that has just been re-elected. It needs to take concrete action and produce concrete results to convince people of its legitimacy.
During his first term in office, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) made a bunch of promises, most of which he failed to deliver on. He also showed that he was incapable of reviving the economy and lacks drive when it comes to eradicating corruption. After accomplishing nothing for four years, how are we supposed to believe he is serious about reforms that are supposed to bring about fairness and justice?
Furthermore, given the impact on the economy caused by the European sovereign debt crisis and the way the world economy is freezing up, the government should do what it can to help the public get through the tough times. However, the Ma administration does not understand the hard time people are having and is instead pushing ahead with increases in fuel and electricity prices as well as a capital gains tax — all in the name of reform. These moves have angered the public and the government has lost their trust. At the same time, Ma has become the first president in Taiwan to have a popularity rating as low as 15 percent.
So why are Ma’s “reforms” so bad? There are three main reasons: First, while these reforms have all been given fancy-sounding names, they are in fact all just for show. Second, these reforms ignore the bigger picture of Taiwan’s already poor economy and overestimate the public’s ability to cope financially. Third, the reforms are technically unsound and ignore the real day-to-day difficulties the public is facing.
Put simply, Ma’s reforms are a mere front and out of touch with the times and the law.
The “reforms” Ma is harping on about are not real reforms. They are only aimed at encouraging reform in others; Ma has done nothing when it comes to reforms that affect his party or his interests. Take the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) assets as an example. These assets came from what Japan left in Taiwan after World War II and from the massive profits the party made from its monopolization of the market for so many of the early years of its rule over the nation. After democratization was completed, these assets should have been returned to the public and put into the national treasury. However, senior members of the KMT are not willing to let go of their own vested interests, including an unwillingness to push for anti-corruption moves.
Despite all his promises about handling KMT party assets, Ma has shown that he is unwilling to let go of this bottomless barrel of gold that brings the party billions of dollars every year. Instead, he has used these assets as a campaign resource and to consolidate the party’s hold on power. By not addressing this issue, KMT leaders have shown themselves to be political con men who have lost all credibility in the eyes of the public. Given this, how are Ma and his government going to convince others to reform?
Throughout his first term in office, Ma failed to deliver on his “6-3-3” promise and real income has dropped to the levels of 14 years ago. Taiwan’s economy is also looking even weaker than last year and exports have dropped sharply as growth in China, the investment target of many Taiwanese companies, is slowing down. Even worse, surveys show that most people are not making enough to make ends meet while disadvantaged groups are having a hard time keeping up with even the most fundamental expenditures. That the government has been unable to help people through this adversity is a sign of incompetence and neglect of duty.