For many years, Taiwan has suffered by the equating Sinicization with internationalization, but Ma has continued to do so. This is tantamount to inviting disaster.
China’s direct and indirect penetration into Taiwan eroded not only the nation’s economy and security, but also press freedom. Taiwanese tycoons with huge business in China continued to buy up Taiwanese media outlets last year. Clearly, the Ma administration had no intention of taking care of the nation.
Luckily, academic and social groups actively fought against media monopolization, hoping to reverse the situation. Just as in the case of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) denied applications for medical parole, the major media buyout took place under the looming specter of China. These are all indicators of the autonomy of the Ma administration’s decision-making.
In terms of Taiwan’s democracy, everyone paid attention to the major corruption scandals involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) and former National Fire Agency director-general Huang Chi-min (黃季敏).
Meanwhile, the KMT paid a NT$45 million fine for the vote-buying practices of its candidates in various elections. Corruption and vote-buying clearly remained rampant. The legislature, where KMT legislators enjoyed a majority, was an anti-reform rubber stamp that prioritized the interests of the party and individual legislators.
In the judiciary, prosecutors and investigators continued to treat politicians from different camps differently, and there were no signs that they would stop being political tools.
The past year was indeed unbearable, which has been reflected by public opinion.
Early in the year, Ma was re-elected with over half of the votes, but his support ratings declined drastically to between 10 percent and 20 percent, as an increasing number of Taiwanese regretted electing him.
Ma, who never admits to having made a mistake, said the future was bright once again, claiming that Taiwan would overcome all difficulties, and that the economic growth rate had exceeded 6 percent for one-and-a-half-years during his presidency.
GDP grew 10.9 percent in 2010, but that must be considered a rebound from the previous year, in which GDP contracted by 1.9 percent. At a time when the government struggled to keep the economic growth rate above 1 percent, Ma repeated the same old trick, by comparing this year to last year and claiming that the outlook for this year is bright, although the UN warns that the global economy could remain stagnant for two more years.
However, Taiwan no longer believes Ma. Ninety-five percent of Taiwanese say that his efforts to boost the economy were imperceptible. Besides, he failed to fulfill his promise that he would donate half of his salary if his “6-3-3” promise failed.
His New Year’s address, entitled “Lighting candles for the next generation,” is still ringing in our ears, but how can we believe that a team that is unable to light candles, will bring a bright year?
Lu Shih-hsiang is an adviser to the Taipei Times.
Translated by Eddy Chang