Sun, Feb 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Ma must keep eye on public opinion: legislator

Amid controversy over President Ma Ying-jeou’s bid for re-election as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei, who has been a vocal critic of the opposition camp as well as her own party, called on Ma to step down from his chairmanship post for the sake of himself and the party in a recent interview with reporter Tzou Jiing-wen of the Chinese-language ‘Liberty Times’ (sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’)

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei gestures during an interview on Jan. 23.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): Voices of dissent from within the KMT against Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) attempt to seek re-election as KMT chairman are growing louder. What’s your opinion on this?

Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾): As a specialist in accounting, I am all about practicality and know that no one could shoulder that many responsibilities at once. Taking next year’s seven-in-one elections as an example, if Ma continues to serve as KMT chairman, should he campaign for party candidates? If so, how would Ma, the president, find time to handle national affairs? The governance is at a mess as it is; [can we] afford to have a president who slacks off?

Over the past five years, Ma has clung to the concept of “the party leading the state (以黨領政)” [as his basis to serve concurrently as KMT chairman], yet it has not served him well. In theory, any national policies will have both pros and cons: One party might applaud certain policies, while the other side opposes them. However, rarely has there been a president whose policies displease almost all, as highlighted by Ma’s recent pension reform that not only galvanizes public servants, but also infuriates the nation’s private-sector employees.

Such an unpopular policy plan indicates that there is something wrong with Ma’s policymaking.

First of all, major national policies are supposed to receive support from at least one of the parties involved, provided that the government takes a firm stance from the onset of formulating them. However, letting policymaking processes drag on for too long only wears down those who are originally in favor of such policies.

Second, the majority of Ma’s current policies run counter to mainstream public opinion, such as the fuel and electricity price hikes and the year-end bonuses for retired government employees. Ma appears to be lacking the ability to sense the widespread public discontent triggered by his own policy plans.

Moreover, Ma’s constant failure to stick to his policy objectives is also alarming. He has trumpeted his goals to push through reforms and uphold the principles of fairness and justness, but most of the policies he has implemented — such as the capital gains tax on securities transactions and the second-generation National Health Insurance scheme — are neither fair, nor just. It seems as if our president only cares about the process of introducing reform, rather than its actual content and implementation.

This leads us to conclude that the notion of “the party leading the state” does not translate into better governance and performance. Besides, even if Ma does yield the party’s helm, no one would veto his policies as long as they are good ones.

Indeed, within the KMT there are many who oppose Ma’s re-election bid, but the opposition from grassroots party members is far more vehement. The party is in bad shape and its members are frequently forced to bear the brunt of severe criticism [from pan-blue supporters] when holding events in local areas. Ma doubling as KMT chairman has only put the party in more disorder, instead of the other way around. His latest bid for chairmanship is doomed to be challenged.

Ma recently held a series of symposia with grassroots party members across the country [under the pretext of soliciting opinions for his pension reform plan]. Yet almost every one of us felt that such gatherings were actually meant [to garner support] for his re-election effort, rather than him listening to what people had to say.

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