Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Cabinet must stay its own course

Former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) authoritarian approach to democratic government from 2014 to 2016 gave rise to a number of movements, including the Sunflower movement.

His shortcomings in governing the country resulted in a weakened pan-blue camp. This created a political climate that was, originally, extremely helpful to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her Democratic Progressive Party, which in 2016 won a legislative majority in addition to the presidency.

Unfortunately, the chaotic way in which the government has tried to drive through reforms and other policy initiatives, biting off more than it can chew at any given time, has left it on the back foot after just more than a year. While she has the majority of seats in the legislature, Tsai has already lost the support of the New Power Party and her government’s public support ratings have suffered.

A number of missteps and her insistence on engaging in dialogue with the people her reforms are going to affect have caused her reform schedule to falter. It has also allowed those who would oppose her reforms to bolster their resolve. All of this has meant that resistance to her reforms, which was entirely avoidable, has been able to develop.

Reform advocates were ready and waiting in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, anticipating civil servant pension reform, the return of illicitly gained party assets and transitional justice — all they wanted from Tsai was the word.

Then, against all expectations, the Tsai administration prevaricated, allowing opponents to her reforms the chance to regroup and rally their forces. A small group of opponents to pension reform in particular were able to take the stage and make their misgivings known, until they managed to rile even working civil servants to action.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-affiliated National Women’s League kept ranting until reform advocates could stand it no longer and the Ministry of the Interior removed Cecilia Koo (辜嚴倬雲) from her position as chairwoman. However, not even this stopped Koo, who continued to loudly declare that the bandits behind unjust transitional justice should be resisted.

The ability to listen is an admirable quality in a leader, but when the time comes, a leader should put their foot down and call the shots. If Tsai had known that her approach to reform would have led to this, she would have gone down another route.

However, it is not just this: The Tsai administration would also do well to note that there is still the economy and the livelihood of the Taiwanese to think about.

The amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and worsening air quality are both matters that deserve long and careful consideration, yet the government tried to push through measures with a baffling sense of urgency before it had reached agreement across the board on the issues, and ended up conjuring problems for itself out of nothing.

In the meantime, it riled the public and gave room to even more conservative opposition and populist groups to oppose the government’s efforts. Further amendments to the act are supported by 60 percent of the public, but, despite this, both employers and employees are unhappy.

With the air quality issue, China is clearly an external factor, but it is not the only factor: There are also domestic factors giving rise to air pollution, and the issue has evolved into a controversy over electricity capacity and supply, as well as environmental protests, and has devolved into populist clashes, none of which is of any use for safeguarding the health and welfare of the populace.

This story has been viewed 2516 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top