Only four months after his re-election and before his re-inauguration on May 20, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rate dropped to less than 20 percent. Everyone is angry with him, regardless of whether they voted for him in the election.
These angry people have one simple demand: They want to be able to make enough money to achieve a basic standard of living.
While such a demand is simple and easy to understand, it also highlights the extreme dissatisfaction among Taiwanese over the tough times they are currently facing because of the Ma administration’s incompetence.
If Ma does not take the public’s demands seriously and respond in a substantive and proactive manner, then Taiwanese, having the power as voters to either make or break Ma, could force him out of office in an ugly exit.
Ma clearly believes that all he has to do is offer a few platitudes and everyone will forget what is going on and start praising him in the same sycophantic manner as Council of Economic Planning and Development (經建會) Minister Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘).
In the past, Ma used campaign tactics to trick voters into voting for him, but he is in real trouble now. Prices are rising across the board and the public are struggling through some very tough times. These inflationary pressures will not go away just because former interior minister Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) claimed that prices have remained stable or because Ma says prices have merely returned to normal levels.
Ma never admits that he was wrong. He is not planning to stop the hikes in fuel and electricity prices and he wants the relaxation of regulations governing the feed additive ractopamine in US beef to pass by June 12, no matter what.
Business leaders have resisted the capital gains tax and while Ma wants to be able to say he is promoting reform, he does not want to offend rich people, so the tax bill is stuck in the legislature blocked by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus.
Ma is not only extremely shortsighted, he is also incompetent and unable to recognize that the biggest problem with the nation’s economy is its industrial slowdown. He should be thinking about ways to revive industry instead of jacking up the prices of fuel and electricity, because that could promote stagflation.
Even more worrying is the huge national debt the Ma administration has accrued over the past four years. Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) has stated that the government lacks adequate funds for next year’s budget, and so it can only be concluded that Ma’s money-grabbing efforts are an attempt to fill the gaps.
If Ma were to fix the economy and restore consumer confidence, the government would increase revenue. However, Ma does not think like this and instead insists on bullying the weak and taking money directly out of people’s pockets through price increases on fuel and power.
The tax on capital gains has not yet been resolved, but it has already ruined the stock market, while the government has turned around and dramatically lowered the proposed securities transaction tax.
Ma is in serious trouble with seemingly no way out, but he never admits his mistakes. Life is hard enough for people as it is, but they still have to worry about what this terrible president might do next. Now, Taiwanese must see to it that Ma is driven out of office so he can learn a bit about democratic values and understand that voters will not stand for someone trying to behave like an emperor.