Sun, Jun 15, 2014 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Ma’s public outreach just for show

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is pushing for the passage of the cross-strait service trade agreement and the draft bill on free economic pilot zones before the three-week legislative extra session, which began on Friday, ends on July 4.

Assuming that the National Affairs Conference on Economics and Trade from July 26 to July 28 is being held to build public consensus on the vision and direction of economic development in Taiwan, as the Ma administration has said, it is illogical for two bills that will change the nation’s economic landscape and its position in global economy to be rammed through before the conference even begins.

The Ma administration is organizing the conference in response to the Sunflower movement in March.

The movement was prompted by the Ma administration’s undemocratic moves to have the agreement ratified by the legislature, although the protesters were demanding a citizens’ constitutional conference to address the democratic deficit and disconnect between the public and the government at the constitutional level.

At any rate, it seems axiomatic that the conference will be a mere formality if the Ma administration leverages its majority power in the legislature to pass the two controversial bills.

As the opposition parties have cited as a reason for not attending the conference: It is only for show.

That mindset has dictated the way the Ma administration handles its policies.

In the latest advertisement to promote the free economic pilot zones, the project was portrayed as the cutting edge of fashion in Taiwan, chao (潮) in Mandarin.

The ad depicts a rosy future, with a logistics expert saying value-added logistics services, one of the target activities under the project, would “market products under the MIT [Made in Taiwan] brand worldwide,” a plastic surgeon hoping that cosmetic surgery in the zones will “make the world more beautiful” and a researcher saying that “banana skin could be made into supplements to treat depression” in designated agri-biotech parks.

It goes on to say that the project is all the rage in Taiwan, so “Let’s go fashion together (讓我們一起潮吧).”

It was reminiscent of the much-ridiculed ad for the “Economic Power-up Plan” two years ago.

In the ad, a narrator tells people who appear clueless about the project that it is impossible to explain the project to them in simple words due to its complexity and that all they need to know is that “a lot of things are being done.”

“We might as well run until our legs break instead of just talking,” it said. “To boost the economy, just do it (拼經濟,做就對啦).”

When facing mounting criticism over the negotiations over the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), the Ma administration in 2009 came up with a comic strip, using an active and capable character named Fa-sao (發嫂) to disparage people who know little about economic matters, like another character named Yi-ge (一哥) in the comic.

Earlier this year, after the Sunflower movement stalled a review of the cross-strait service trade agreement in the legislature, the Ma administration was advised to enlist comedian Chu Ko Liang (豬哥亮), actress Lin Mei-hsiu (林美秀) and entertainer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰) to help promote the agreement because they were said to be better at using plain language to make policies more understandable to ordinary people.

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