It is no secret that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is regularly called a “bumbler” in local and international media. Nor is it a secret that his competence has been called into question even by members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). However, a different and more serious question has been popping up recently, which arises when Ma or KMT officials attempt to “clarify” his position on matters like the Republic of China’s (ROC) Constitution, Taiwan’s territorial rights or its history. That question is: What universe or fantasy world do they live in?
At first it seemed that Ma was using double-talk. He would speak out of one side of his mouth when talking to Taiwanese and out of the other to people outside Taiwan. For example, he has repeatedly stressed that the time is not right for political negotiations with China and that he will only take them up with the approval of Taiwanese. However, without consulting the people — even to the point of ignoring them — he seems to be feverishly and desperately trying to set up such negotiations. The meeting between Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) in Nanjing, China, is a case in point. Although the Legislative Yuan said that there should be no discussion of politics at the meeting, serious doubt hangs in the air that the minister followed that instruction.
Such double-talk has happened in the past. Ma told people that they should respect the ROC flag, but when students displayed it at an international sports event in Taiwan in which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was participating, the students were scolded and told to remove it.
Even worse, the police manhandled people who displayed the flag during the visit of then-Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林). Such harsh treatment would not happen unless the perpetrators knew they had approval from higher up.
Ma basks in his presidency of the ROC and yet he sidesteps and omits his title when PRC officials are present. Similarly, the failed “political assassination” of Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) over the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement was masked as being an “anti-corruption” effort.
Ma says that he is Taiwanese, but never acknowledges a Taiwan minzu (民族). Instead, he constantly stresses a zhonghua minzu (中華民族) and that he is a descendent of the Yellow Emperor from Chinese history, not Taiwanese history.
Others have interpreted Ma differently and see him as a “Zelig figure,” one trying to please everyone. Some go so far as to suggest that he may be schizophrenic, suffer from multiple personality disorder or even have a “sociopathic streak.” Whatever perspectives people have of Ma, it seems that no sooner has one issue quieted down than another one pops up.
The most recent issue arose with an opinion piece by James Wang (王景弘, “Distortions about Cairo Declaration aid China,” Feb. 5, page 8) and the response to it by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Letter, Feb. 12, page 8). Wang ably responded to the ministry’s letter with another piece (“What is MOFA hiding?” Feb. 14, page 8).
The obvious question to ask about any relationship between the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Cairo Declaration is: If the Cairo Declaration was so clear in intent on Taiwan’s retrocession to the ROC as the ministry claims, then why would the treaty not state such instead of just saying that Japan “renounces it rights” over Taiwan without designating anyone as the recipient?