People are not very impressed with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) record in office. The reason his approval ratings currently sit at 13 percent is not just because of his perceived “bumbling” and lack of empathy for the public he represents, it is also because his policies are often confused and self-contradictory. This is why he is failing to win the hearts and minds of the public.
The reasons given by the government for pursuing a certain policy in the past miraculously become the reasons why such a policy should not be followed the minute the government comes up with a new policy idea. It then uses the excuse that it initially implemented what was possible concerning the policy, but now it is going to put in place a better option.
Ma’s ill-thought out policies are not only unlikely to achieve what they are supposed to achieve, but give the impression that he is just steering the ship on a whim, for his personal ideological considerations and to fit in with his party’s stance. The question of whether the policies will improve the fortunes of the nation does not seem to come into it.
This is not the time or the place to enumerate all of the mutually inconsistent policies that this government has come up with, but ridiculous propositions which could have, in the past, been easily refuted with a little common sense, now seem to form the underpinnings for major planks of Ma’s policies.
Small wonder a formerly perfectly functioning national apparatus has, in Ma’s hands, started to fall apart at the seams and falter to the extent to which there is a risk that the state could collapse.
Three examples can be given of these strange policy ideas.
First is the government’s support of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
The government has said that one reason construction of the plant must be completed is that electricity prices will rise if it is not put in to operation, and this will discourage foreign investment, cause companies to relocate and result in a 2,000 point drop in the TAIEX.
However, if an increase in electricity prices will have such a deleterious effect on the economy, why did the government insist last year on increasing electricity prices in stages, saying that there will be yet another hike this year — with a possible floating pricing mechanism implemented — apparently without consideration for the loss of foreign investment, discouragment of companies locating in Taiwan, or the risk of a precipitous drop in the TAIEX?
The government allowed the electricity price increase to help Taiwan Power Co recoup some of its losses without any consideration of the economic impact this would have, but it is now linking electricity prices to the economy because it supports the completion of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
The implication being that if the plant is not completed, the economy will tank. This argument does not hold water, because it was refuted last year when Ma proposed the electricity hike policy.
For the second example, considers how stock markets around the world have started to post new highs — if not since records began, then certainly since the financial crisis — and this is part of a long-term trend. The only stock markets to remain sluggish are those of Taiwan and China. In addition, the transaction volume in the TAIEX has actually shrunk.