The Economist carried an article in its latest edition titled “Ma the bumbler,” in which it described how President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had now become “the bumbler” of Taiwan.
The article pointed out that when Ma was elected to office in 2008, he rode in on high expectations and the image of a “clean technocrat,” different from the majority of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and very different from his predecessor, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
The article said that despite Ma’s re-election to a second term in January, his approval rating has plunged to a record low of 13 percent, as measured in a poll by the TVBS Poll Center, adding: “The country appears to agree on one thing: Mr Ma is an ineffectual bumbler.”
Saying that the public first began to exhibit discontent in June this year because of rising electricity and gas prices, the article added that the public is also worried that the Labor Insurance Fund is “on a course to bankruptcy” because of mismanagement of the fund.
The article also points out that despite Taiwan’s economy — 70 percent of which is foreign exports — being held back by economic decline in the West, Ma’s leadership is also to blame as he failed to paint a more positive picture to the public and he did not stand firmly by his policies.
The article criticized Ma for “frequently tweaking policies in response to opposition or media criticism [which] suggests indecisiveness.”
It added that Ma’s efforts to appeal to the broad center of the Taiwanese public often backfires on him because of his party’s core supporters.
Commenting on the report, a number of netizens in Taiwan voiced approval of the article, while some said they also felt sad that the elected president of Taiwan is now indirectly known internationally as the “bumbler.”
In response, Presidential Office spokesperson Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said late last night that the Ma administration would continue to give its all for the people and would get its act together in order to step up the pace of policy implementation.
Saying that there have been many changes to the overall economic environment both domestically and internationally during Ma’s time in office, especially his second term, Fan Chiang called on the public to bear with the government at such a difficult time.