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’)

At the time, being selected as a member into what was then deemed the nation’s power center was no easy task. That, in a way, helped the committee recruit a diverse group of people from all sectors of society and become a vital platform where different public opinions were exchanged and heard, and where the “party” and the “government” engaged in deliberations on, and made amendments to, major policies.

However, such a function of the committee has become history.

Another option is, as [Representative to the US] King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) has proposed, transforming the party into an “election machine” that only functions during elections, while it distances itself from government policymaking processes.

From my perspective, whether it is a party chairmanship post or a presidential position, they are full-time responsibilities and should therefore be held by two separate people. The party chairman could submit opinions from the party to the president for references, while the two could then exchange views and forge consensuses on different matters. Such an operational mode will not only be far better than having just one man who makes all the calls, but could also help the president be more in touch with public opinion.

LT: How serious has Ma’s one-man decisionmaking style been for the past few years?

Lo: The majority of Ma’s decisions are made within an extremely small group of his aides, from which we at the Legislative Yuan and public opinions are completely excluded. He does not solicit opinion from others or resort to party-government dialogues before introducing policy proposals, whose existence are only made known to lawmakers by print media outlets.

However, by the time these policy plans make the front page, it would be very hard to scrap them, regardless of how absurd we [legislators] may think they are. The worst part is that most of these proposals are either hastily formulated or are introduced for the sake of introducing reform [in keeping with Ma’s pledge of pushing reform].

Ma’s one-man decisionmaking style may have been the subject of public criticism for a long time now, but his failure to fairly dispense rewards and hand down discipline could be the most life-threatening symptom for the nation.

For instance, the fatal car accident near the hard-to-reach Smangus Village (司馬庫斯) in Hsinchu County in December last year, which resulted in 13 deaths, has yet to see any officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications be reprehended.

LT: With more than three years left in Ma’s [second] term as president, the coming three years could be a critical moment for the nation.Would party elites sit by and watch what you say could be the party’s “misfortune” (Ma being re-elected as chairman) happen?

Lo: Few party members, except for Ma’s spokespersons, stood up for Ma when KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) cited regulations to challenge his legal eligibility to be re-elected as KMT chairman. For the sake of the nation, I believe more party members will come forward in the future to prevail on Ma to bring about changes, including a Cabinet reshuffle and making necessary adjustments to certain policies.

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