The “Sunflower” protests had been nonviolent until Ma refused to meet with the protestors or even to acknowledge what it was they wished to discuss. True to form, the president sent a representative with no power to act, namely Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺). Immediately after Jiang heard the students concerns and demands, he admitted that he did not have any authority to respond, only Ma had that authority. Why go through the pretense of sending a man who could do nothing?
Over it all looms the shadow of a deceitful, Quisling-like character trait that one struggles to put one’s finger on, and this is what the “Sunflower Movement” has exposed on a nationwide scale. Now more than ever, Ma is revealed as a stubborn, distanced man who constantly tries to fit square pegs into round holes and apparently lives in a fantasy world in which he leads a one-party state. He and his spin-doctors claim that he has completed more than 90 percent of his campaign promises and that the relationships between Taiwan and the US and China are better than they have ever been.
If all this is so, why is it that after six years as president the economy is poor and the nation is in such dire straits? This situation has not been one day in the making; it is the result of six years of rule by one man and one party, the KMT, which has always controlled the Legislative Yuan.
The protests are non-partisan, and have to be to have credibility. If they had been organized by one of the opposition political parties, their motivation would easily be questioned. Once the protests are finished, voters must take responsibility and remember them. These actions must not be in vain. The conflict has arisen because of one man and one party. Ma has dual roles as president and KMT chairman, and his party has stretched its rules to allow him to remain as chairman.
The nation is stuck with 9 Percent Ma for the next two years unless it can find grounds for impeachment, but on Nov. 29, the people can act. Significant change will only come through the ballot box.
Jerome Keating is a commentator in Taipei.