Sun, Aug 31, 2008 - Page 3 News List

MA YING-JEOU: 100 DAYS IN OFFICE: ANALYSIS: President Ma’s first 100 days draw mixed reviews

REPORT CARDSovereignty, arms procurement and the ‘diplomatic truce’ were some of the issues attracting the attention of analysts on Ma’s 100th day as president


President Ma Ying-jeou shows a mooncake that he made during a media event in Taipei yesterday raising money for social welfare organizations before the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Photo: AP

On President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) 100th day in office, analysts questioned the president’s seemingly cavalier approach to sovereignty, cross-strait relations, foreign affairs and other issues.

Ma touched many Taiwanese people’s hearts when he stated many times during his presidential campaign that he is Taiwanese and that he would be buried here in this land as Taiwanese. Shortly after he was elected in March, he adopted a strategy meant to defuse tensions with China, but which has been much criticized by pro-localization advocates.

In his inaugural address, he called for cross-strait negotiations based on the so-called “1992 consensus” and proposed reconciliation and detente.

The “1992 consensus” describes the notion that the two sides agreed that each could have its own interpretation of what “one China” means, but the “consensus” is not universally recognized as valid in Taiwan.

Acting on his call, both sides resumed talks in June after a decade-long hiatus. Beijing, reluctant to let the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration take credit for weekend charter flights and increase in Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, finally gave the initiatives the go-ahead.

Amid speculation that the administration had asked the US to suspend arms sales to prevent irking Beijing in the run-up to Olympics, Ma has promised to continue purchasing defensive weapons from Washington.

The defense budget, however, was the only government budget that suffered cuts in the budget for next year.

Antonio Chiang (江春男), political analyst and former editor-in-chief of the Taipei Times, said he was most worried about Taiwan’s future because the goal of the Ma administration was to unify with China although Ma did not want to admit it on record.

“Before he was elected, he kept saying that he loved Taiwan, but now he doesn’t say it any more,” Chiang said.

Ma’s biggest problem, Chiang said, was that he could not care less about sovereignty, foreign affairs or democracy. Ma has been too optimistic in his expectations for China, while largely ignoring the US and Japan, he said.

“He thought the country’s relationship with other countries would improve if cross-strait relations made headway,” Chiang said. “When we totally count on Beijing’s goodwill, there won’t be any peace in the Taiwan Strait.”

One hundred days into his presidency, Chiang said Ma has completely wiped out what the former DPP administration had worked for over the past eight years.

Some of Ma’s tactics involved a series of largely symbolic gestures that reversed actions taken by the former DPP administration that China found objectionable.

Examples include removing the Chinese characters for “Taiwan” from the presidential Web site and changing back the name of the state-run postal company to Chunghwa Post after the name was dropped by the former DPP administration because it contained the word “Chinese.”

The Ma administration is also mulling changing the name of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Ma also took pride in having Beijing use the name “Chinese Taipei” in its media’s reference to the Taiwanese Olympic team and praised Beijing’s change of heart as a diplomatic feat.

Chiang said using different tactics was worth a try, but they must be backed by a well-thought-out plan and implemented by a competent and professional team. Unfortunately, the Ma administration had neither, he said.

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