It is kind of ironic to see President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) popularity ratings plummet so quickly in the four months between his re-election and his second term inauguration. From garnering a majority of the vote in the Jan. 14 presidential election he has now hit a rating of less than 20 percent in recent polls. Ma has gone from hero to zero in no time at all.
It seems that the 51.6 percent of the electorate who voted him back into power are just now waking up to the fact that he is just another manipulative politician without their interests at heart. Ma pays back his political benefactors in Beijing and Washington, as well as the heads of some of the Cabinet’s ministries, but he does not seem to care about the well-being of those who really put him in power — the heads of Taiwan’s small-to-medium sized enterprises and the public at large.
With Ma’s fuel and energy price increases and the proposed capital gains tax on securities trading, Ma is hitting his real supporters where it counts, in the wallet — and they are finally getting to see what kind of a president he truly is.
However, it is too late. It is too late for his erstwhile supporters to say he is not looking out for their interests. It is too late to try to block his ill-timed economic proposals in the legislature. It does no good to tell a pollster now that they do not think he is doing a good job, because they voted him in and like it or not, we must live with him for the next four years.
Ma made it abundantly clear in his first term what to expect from him in a second. He trod all over the rights of farmers, had administration members engage in closed-door meetings with Beijing officials and failed to deliver on his promises of economic growth — even when Taiwan was rebounding after the 2008 recession. He made decisions with no regard for public opinion and shied away from contact with the outside world, earning him the moniker the “Facebook President.” He proved himself unable to listen to countervailing opinions and failed to lay any groundwork to make good on some of his better policies, the result of one, for example, has meant a lack of tour bus drivers for the hordes of Chinese tour groups visiting the nation.
His incompetence in handling the Typhoon Morakot disaster shocked many and the zeal with which he pursues the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) vendetta against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the Democratic Progressive Party has left many people with a negative impression. Ma, who prides himself on his sense of unerring justice, seems to have eroded the very system that could have kept justice alive by making sure that prosecutors go after political enemies, while ignoring the wrongs of political allies.
In all the fields that count, Ma has demonstrated unimaginable ineptitude — in military relations, in democracy building, in economics, in negotiations, in simple people skills.
However, the 51.6 percent who re-elected him to serve a second term, decided to give him another chance perhaps because his incompetence had not hurt them yet. Sad as it is to say though, these voters have no right to express dissatisfaction now, for he is the president they asked for.