Anything but ineffectual
Many have already commented on the characterization of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as an “ineffectual bumbler.” The danger of using a negative adjective — ineffectual — with a negative noun — bumbler — is that the resulting meaning is actually positive; that is, he is not a good bumbler.
An ineffectual bumbler is actually someone who is effective or competent at what he is doing because he or she is not effective at doing things ineptly. Thus, the label ineffectual bumbler only sounds negative.
The problem is that many people are content to negatively characterize the president because they hold the mistaken belief that he should be or intends to be doing something different from what he is doing. Obviously, the president does not think that.
He knows that it is better in the long run for Taiwan to align itself both culturally and politically with China — an authoritarian government that regards itself rhetorically as being democratic — because Taiwan under his leadership is also an authoritarian government that regards itself as democratic.
Both governments even use the same forms of deception and corruption to undermine the practical application of democracy.
To Taiwanese, The Economist’s measure of the president of Taiwan mistakenly presumes that his democratic rhetoric is a reflection of his real beliefs. However, to people in the West, the article is a linguistically veiled warning to the free world that Taiwan is on the road to an overtly, as opposed to covertly, unholy alliance with China.
So, in reality, the president of Taiwan is anything but an ineffectual bumbler, because he is doing a very effective job of cementing unification with China, culturally, economically and politically, which happens to be to the benefit of his undeclared understanding of what is best for Taiwan as it pertains to the future security of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the value and authority of which supersedes the welfare of both the Taiwanese and Chinese citizens.
Certainly he would be the last person to effectively (as opposed to rhetorically) deny these assertions.
Points to ponder
As King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) took on his new post as Taiwan’s representative to the US, I could not help but notice in two recent Taipei Times articles the near scripted fashion and mouthing of the same phrases by King and former head of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Douglas Paal (“King states ‘three noes’ in US relations,” Dec. 4, page 3; “Paal gives advice to Taiwan’s US envoy,” Dec. 5, page 3).
King promised that Taiwan under Ma would continue to have “no surprises, no time lags and no errors.” Paal welcomed King and the fact that he would bring to the US “no surprises, no time lags and no errors.”
Since Paal is known for having business related interests in China and Ma is known for having pro-unification tendencies, one would naturally wonder why there is this seemingly united and orchestrated front, and who these men actually speak for.
This year’s US beef kerfuffle and the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) dispute, with the US clearly standing on side of Japan, give the lie to “no surprises, no time lags and no errors.”
So why did Paal come to Taiwan in November last year to “campaign” for Ma, why did the US beef issue take so long before it was “rammed down” Taiwan’s throat and why did AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt appear in Taiwan to settle the beef issue the day after Ma’s re-election? The scripted nature of King’s and Paal’s remarks raise many questions that Taiwanese and even US citizens should wonder about.