The Cabinet’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC) recently said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has executed 97 percent of his campaign promises so far. Since there is a gap between the public impression of Ma’s performance and the commission’s figure, some people have given in to their curiosity and begun a thorough examination of the president’s policy execution.
According to the commission’s report, Ma has proposed a total of 19 major policies. These policies can be divided into three main categories.
The first category includes policies that anyone could interpret any way they choose. In other words, there is no “management by numbers,” no concrete objectives and no achievement rates on which the public to base any examination.
These policies include improving language and information education, eliminating the gap in digital education, taking care of disadvantaged groups, financing small and medium-sized enterprises, hosting more large international conferences, promoting medical tourism, transforming the nation into an economic and trading hub for the Asia-Pacific region, assisting the information industry in carrying out its global deployment, building a political environment based on mutual trust and loosening regulations on financial, educational and tourist policies in order to promote market liberalization and boost competitiveness.
There are many policies of this kind, which could be said to be rich in description, and judging from the commission’s calculations, the execution rate of this kind of policy is probably about 100 percent.
The second category includes the policies that are political slogans more than anything else. Ma said that the production value of the medical tourism industry is about NT$18 billion (US$595.6 million) per year, and said it is expected to create 30,000 jobs in Taiwan in four years. Ma added that opening up Taiwan to Chinese tourism is likely to create 140,000 jobs in four years, generating a profit of NT$380 billion.
Ma has also pledged to promote the nation’s energy efficiency by 2 percent per year during his time in office, allocate funds on a yearly basis to help women enter the workplace, create 100,000 jobs during his first term and establish a fund of NT$150 billion to take care of 4,000 farming and fishing villages and 600,000 farming and fishing households nationwide. A lot has been written about the success of these policies, but it is very hard for the average Taiwanese to notice much of them.
The third category contains policies that do not fall in the first two. These are policies that can actually be examined, and Ma has failed to carry out many of them. These policies include lowering the unemployment rate to 3 percent, establishing a Taiwan award (台灣獎) for cultural masters, creating a Hoklo-language production center under the Taiwan Public Television Service and creating a national Hakka-language radio station.
Ma has also failed to reduce the class size in elementary schools to about 25 students per class, implement a special deduction of NT$25,000 for young people who receive advanced education, push for Taiwan’s entry into the UN, provide funds for youth to revitalize idle public facilities — the so-called “mosquito houses” (蚊子館) — and demand that the Chinese Communist Party withdraw its ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan.