Keeping up the pressure
It is a good thing that US Senator Lisa Murkowski raised her concern about the health of former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) (“US senator presses Ma on Chen’s health,” Jan. 16, page 3).
US officials have kept up the pressure on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to take Chen’s health seriously. Reports are that his health continues to deteriorate rapidly. I am impressed that Republican and Democratic officials from my home country have joined together in a non-partisan manner to say “Enough is enough.”
It is time the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) and other parties do the humane thing and grant Chen a medical release. President Ma, step up to the plate and do the right thing.
Taiwan needs a Hillary
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to work after being hospitalized because of a blood clot. Upon her return, her staff presented her with a football helmet and a jersey with the number 112 — representing the impressive number of nations she visited. As the US’ top diplomat, she has a stellar record — ranging from pushing agendas on women’s rights, Internet freedom and LGBT issues. Even Republican senators openly praised her for the work done.
More importantly, she is a team player. After losing the Democratic presidential primary to now US President Barack Obama, she reconciled the marked frictions by serving in his Cabinet. In this capacity, she has lifted her nation’s image and cemented ties with allies abroad. These arguably play a role in Obama’s successful bid for re-election.
Turning to Taiwan, President Ma, similar to Obama, is confronted with poor economic performance and a rising unemployment rate. Ma needs the courage to select a premier who has the conviction to take unpopular, yet necessary, moves. These include reforms on health care and social security packages for laborers and government employees. A comprehensive review of the aforementioned items, potentially entailing a discount to government budget allocated, would be necessary to address the state’s ailing fiscal condition. These reforms would have to be undertaken without fearing electoral consequences.
Premier Sean Chen, though a seasoned bureaucrat with a financial background, has consistently flip-flopped on positions. The KMT and the president are equally reprehensible for being indecisive and divided on these issues due to lobbying interests and constituents’ pressure. Accordingly, the premier’s ability of maneuvering has been severely constrained.
Perhaps Ma should replace Chen in light of the protest on Sunday. The ideal candidate would be one that is not within Ma’s inner circle. In fact, Ma may even consider reaching out to opposition party members, including former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). As Ma is in his final term, he should appropriately delegate authority to the premier to revamp the existing programs and subsidies that have crippled the country’s financial condition.
Tsai is no longer the chairperson of the DPP. She likewise has the administrative experiences previously serving as deputy premier, a lawmaker and the chief negotiator for Taiwan.
Considering Taiwan is eagerly engaging in talks with Singapore and New Zealand concerning trade agreements, Tsai would be a valuable asset given her experience.
By tapping her, Ma would earn respect across the political spectrum and address the nation’s political gridlock. If Tsai fails in such capacity, the KMT conveniently has one less challenger to be concerned with in 2016.