Despite the celebratory ambiance the government tried to project yesterday with a dazzling array of Double Ten National Day parades, a spectacular firework display and a speech by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) trumpeting his goals of building Taiwan with “high highs” — a free economy with high productivity, high value-added products and high incomes with generous welfare — many remain skeptical about the competence of the Ma government and find it hard to view the nation’s future optimistically.
The public has good reasons not to be thrilled with the government.
Besides holding a poor track record of translating pledges into concrete efforts to improve the public’s standard of living, the Ma administration has also managed to depress the nation every day by delivering ideas and catchphrases, while failing to introduce any actual policies that might improve lives or promote national development.
What the public witnesses are disturbing incidents such as the political vendetta waged by Ma against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) through allegedly unconstitutional means and the Special Investigation Division’s seeming presumption to wiretap the Legislative Yuan’s switchboard. All of this is causing more of the public to be swamped by that sinking feeling that the president and his Cabinet do not share the nation’s priorities.
“We must decide our own future. We should ask ourselves: Do we want a civil society governed with reason and tolerance? Or do we choose political infighting stemming from suspicion and confrontation?” said Ma in his speech yesterday as he pledged to strengthen dialogue between the government and society to “promote social progress and realize social reform.”
While Ma may be of the opinion that his words alone are sincere enough to put the public at ease, he may not be aware that every word he speaks exists in sharp contrast to what is actually happening. The public is rapidly losing heart and losing faith in the nation’s direction.
Fortunately, there is a hope yet.
The hope lies not in the flowery and empty words delivered by the president, but in the growing awakening of civic consciousness, which the world witnessed in the streets of Taiwan yesterday, where ten of thousands of people called for reforms and exercised their civic rights and responsibilities. It is here we can see the future of the nation.
The hope for Taiwan also lies in people like the “Ms Lin from Taipei,” a housewife who shot to fame recently for her outspokenness and poignant insights criticizing the government and politicians in political call-in shows, debunking the perception that the majority of Taiwanese are apathetic toward politics.
Granted, the nation will not suddenly change for better just because one member of the public dared to explicitly express her anger with the government. However, one more voice heard means one more step toward the realization that the “people are the masters of the country.”
When citizens feel the most demoralized and hopeless about the course the nation is taking, they will stand up firm and make their voices heard.