EDITORIAL: Four into two don’t go

Thu, Feb 09, 2012 - Page 8

It can’t be known exactly how much voters’ displeasure with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) performance in his first term led them to cast their ballot for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the Jan. 14 presidential election. However, each and every one of the 6,093,578 who voted for Tsai will democratically abide by the results now the contest is over. They respect the choice made by the 6,891,139 people who voted for Ma, despite their reservations on placing the nation’s future in his hands for the next four years.

They are hoping for the best, that Ma and his new Cabinet will surprise them with a performance beyond the public’s expectations.

Just when so many members of the general public have reconciled themselves to the results of the election, whether their favored candidate won or lost, to look beyond the pan-blue and pan-green divide and to focus instead on the future achievements that have been promised for Ma’s second term, they have been shocked to hear that Ma is already making excuses for his failure to fulfill his campaign pledges.

On Tuesday, the president shared the stage with vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), new Presidential Office Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) and new Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih (林益世). Ma said that although his second term was four years long, “there are just two years in which to effect large-scale reforms, in reality, as it will be election time again the year after next.”

Ma’s audacity is breathtaking. If he could only hear and think about his own words, he would realize how absurd his remarks sound — even to those who voted for him.

It is dumbfounding to learn how Ma, who does not officially begin his second presidential term until May 20, is already warning people to lower their expectations, claiming it would be difficult to carry out the reforms he proposed during his re-election campaign, given that the seven-in-one local elections are scheduled to be held in 2014.

The remarks hark back to the so-called “6-3-3” campaign pledge Ma made before the 2008 presidential election. He was elected at the time primarily because of his pledge to lead the nation in achieving an annual economic growth rate of 6 percent, annual per capita income of US$30,000 by 2016 and an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent. It was not until after he assumed office that he said it was unlikely the “6-3-3” target could be achieved within four years, and then brazenly called on voters to give him another four years in office.

Now that the people have given him another four years, he is saying he only has two years in actuality to carry out substantive reforms. Unbelievable as this may sound, yet more unbelievable is the bold-faced manner of its delivery.

As leader of the nation, Ma should revisit the fundamental values behind every vote that was cast in last month’s presidential election. Each vote symbolizes a person’s yearning for a better life and his or her high expectations of the government.

Ma may no longer be facing the pressure of running for re-election, but that does not mean that in the second term of his presidency he will be let off the hook if he fails to keep his campaign promises. A president who fails to pay attention to the people’s legitimate desires runs the risk of becoming a president not worthy of respect.