Sun, Jun 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Ma administration doesn’t understand ‘government’

NEW BOSS, NEW RULES A former Taiwan Foundation for Democracy member said the KMT didn’t respect decisions that were made under the former DPP government

By Chiu Yen-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌), who recently resigned from his position as a member of the supervisory board of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), said in an interview last Monday that since the inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the government has displayed a skewed understanding of the word “government.”

“It seems that only the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] government qualifies as a government, while the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government was not a government,” he said.

As a result, members of the TFD, the Overseas Chinese Culture and Education Foundation and the Council for Hakka Affairs have been replaced for a variety of reasons, Hsiao said.

“I think this is frightening,” Hsiao said.

In response to speculation that the government wanted former KMT legislator Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) to take over as president of the TFD, Hsiao said no one would raise an eyebrow as long as a suitable person was chosen as replacement, but that in his view, “Huang is too partisan.”

Hsiao said what he found frightening about the government was that “while it criticizes others, it turns around and does exactly the same thing that it is criticizing others for doing.”

The Council for Hakka Affairs used to hold a meeting every two months, he said, but since Ma became president, the meetings are often skipped.

With new council members set to be appointed next week, Hsiao said the government’s approach to handling groups like the council “is to avoid holding regular meetings and then appointing new members once the terms are up.”

Hsiao said the Overseas Chinese Commission’s Overseas Chinese Culture and Education Foundation had also replaced board members. Although it was within the government’s rights to appoint board members, he questioned whether the new members had sufficient expertise.

Hsiao said he suspected that although the government claimed the changes were being made to improve the groups, they were in fact politically motivated.

There were also reports that the Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award, the National Culture and Arts Foundation and the Public Television Service — which all cooperated well with the previous government — have had problems applying for funds since Ma took office and that lower officials were afraid to contact the Ma government.

Hsiao said he felt these were the most objectionable aspects of the Ma administration.

Despite the fact that there had been a change in government, cooperation with all these organizations should still be possible, but the present government refuses to cooperate with any organization that had good relations with the former DPP government.

“This is very serious,” he said. “And this must come from the top, with lower-level staff afraid to question it.”

Hsiao said the Ma government is active when it comes to replacing people, but passive when it comes to cooperation. It uses these two approaches to deal with agencies, foundations and other green organizations in the DPP periphery, he added.

“This is very unprofessional,” he said. “They have completely misunderstood the fact that there is only one government. It seems only the KMT government qualifies as a government, and that when someone else is in power, they are [something different].”

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