In a country that still has not been “normalized,” most government leaders act recklessly and do whatever they want, with a style all their own.
The year is about to end and looking back at President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) political performance during the year it is not difficult to draw conclusions about his personal leadership style. We can analyze the “myths” about Ma-style political performance based on the following aspects.
First, the failure to strengthen the constitutional system of the Republic of China (ROC).
Strictly speaking, the current system is a semi-presidential system, but Ma’s leadership is modelled on the leadership style of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), in that he concentrates all power in his own hands.
As the president has a lot of power, but lacks accountability, the decision-making process often becomes inefficient, causing public anger to grow across Taiwan.
Second, the unclear view of national identity.
What people find most difficult to understand about the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is why it does not shed its “greater China” ideology, which leads to a confused understanding of national identity, while it takes pride in its mistaken belief that the so-called “1992 consensus” on there being “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” is an example of creative ambiguity. Taiwan has sheltered this regime in exile and nurtured it like a mother, but the party still sees Taiwan as a burden or a stranger.
How to deal with the split national identity is a core issue in Ma’s political performance.
Third, the inability to safeguard national sovereignty. The national flag, anthem and passport are symbols of a country’s sovereignty and should be protected. It is also necessary to strengthen diplomatic relations. However, Beijing often oppresses Taipei at international events and hurts its autonomy.
Despite Ma’s proposal of a “diplomatic truce” to promote peace, Taiwan’s sovereignty continues to slip away and this loss might jeopardize national security. Ma’s wishful thinking that Beijing will offer some goodwill shows he has lost his direction.
Fourth, the interference of politicians in the judiciary, which is an embarrassment to its independence.
Some say courts are run by the KMT and it prosecutes more politicians from the pan-green camp than from the pan-blue camp for corruption. We all know that in a democracy, the independence of the judiciary is sacred and inviolable.
However, in the corruption cases against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), it seems the court has been cooking up charges by using all kinds of excuses. It is not providing the courteous treatment that a retired president should enjoy, and it treats Chen even worse than the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) treats dissidents.
Looking at the transfer of power from the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, with the exception of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, almost all former communist leaders received relatively courteous treatment.
In Chen’s case, Taiwan seems to emulate the way the Chinese communists treated dissidents in the 1950s and 1960s, completely disregarding judicial and human rights.
In addition to these flaws, Ma’s remaining issues are too numerous to count. If there really is such a thing as a “2012 consensus” here in Taiwan, then it might be that “we all call Ma a bumbler.”
That is yet another great chapter in the history of Ma’s rule.
Hung Mao-hsiung is an adviser to the Taiwan International Studies Association.
Translated By Eddy Chang