Ma has never been known as a man of accomplishments. Ma’s history as mayor of Taipei, as well as his first term as president, remains one of image over content, style over substance and one where unfulfilled promises are replaced by new ones. This is what worries people most about Ma’s new Cabinet changes and shift of direction. If improving the economy within four years has proven too daunting for Ma, his switch to solving and dispensing the cross-strait conundrum within three years — and with the help of inexperienced people — is not going to bring progress.
Yet Ma has sailed in, convinced that this new area is the one where he will finally make his mark. Ma’s dreams and confidence are not shared even among many of his own pan-blue cohorts and the most vocal critic has been Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien, who has made no excuses for branding Ma’s record in power as “incompetent.” Ma has certainly not fared any better in the pan-green camp.
One cannot but also wonder whether leaders in the US and China are inwardly chuckling or are actually embarrassed at Ma’s appointments.
On the US side, its leaders have parlayed and worked with their “undecided” perspective on Taiwan since World War II — how could they possibly think that Ma’s new tack will suddenly resolve the multitude of issues?
As for China, how will that nation, which has made no secret of its hegemonic ambitions to pull Taiwan into its sphere, react? How will it view Ma’s dreams?
Finally of course there are the people of Taiwan. While China and the US may feel that Ma’s inexperienced appointees give them more leeway to decide matters between themselves, what about the Taiwanese? Certainly the democratic people of Taiwan will not want to continue to be left in the cold where they remain dependent on Ma’s “yes-men.”
Jerome Keating is a commentator in Taipei.