Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

SERVICES PACT: INTERVIEW: ‘True blue’ Liu says the nation’s biggest problem is Ma

In an interview with the ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’), retired lieutenant general James Liu told reporter Tzou Jiing-wen that Taiwanese may be able to accept unfavorable government policies and shrinking incomes, but if cross-strait affairs are not handled properly, Taiwanese would not be able to make a living anymore, and the main problem with the nation’s governance lies with President Ma Ying-jeou

Retired lieutenant general James Liu gestures during an interview with the Taipei Times’ sister paper, the Liberty Times, on Thursday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): The government’s failure to communicate with the tertiary [service] sector before signing the cross-strait service trade agreement has caused a great deal of discontent among affected industries. In your opinion, what are the main problems with the government?

James Liu (劉湘濱): I want to start with a core problem. For a very long time, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been severely criticized over many issues, but no matter the criticism, Ma always replies with: “Thanks for the suggestions.” However, Ma’s response of “unacceptable” to [former speaker of the defunct Taiwan Provincial Assembly] Kao Yu-jen’s (高育仁) criticism of him as being “selfish” departed from his stock response. Why? Because, in a nutshell, Kao’s criticism hit the bullseye.

Whether it is cross-strait or domestic policies, the crux of the problem comes down to Ma’s selfishness. It is due to his selfishness that the nation has become what it is today.

[The incident involving] Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) is a very good example. [Lee passed a note reminding Ma that the media were filming him dozing off while presiding over a flood-prevention meeting on May 20. Lee’s casual signature on the note prompted accusations of a lack of workplace professionalism.] What’s the relationship between Lee and Ma? Is it a business relationship or is it more personal? That Lee would write such a note to Ma in such a public setting suggests the interaction between Lee and Ma is more personal than a pure business relationship.

From this incident we can boldly presume Ma is surrounded by people with whom he shares no business relationship. This means their interactions are purely on a personal and private level, and as long as they are able to maintain a good private relationship, it really doesn’t matter whether they are successful in actual governmental affairs.

There’s a reason why everyone calls the Ma administration the “Ma clique.” The usual sort he keeps around him are promoted not because of their professional capabilities. Under such circumstances, Ma becomes the core of the group and everyone listens to him.

By using only people he knows or likes, the Ma administration has no unified national strategy, no core concept to help them guide the nation. In short, they do not have the capability to govern the nation.

Regarding the cross-strait service trade agreement, everyone asks why the Ma administration didn’t ask the tertiary sector for their opinions.

First off, Ma now feels nothing for the people; he never has unless there’s an election ongoing. As the leader of the nation, if he doesn’t make the needs of the public a priority, it’s going to cause a lot of problems.

Second, and this is the bigger problem, he’s too proud. This can be seen from one of his most oft-quoted phrases: “I have an administration that has the most, and the best, doctorates.”

It gives a sense that he is in charge of a team of highly educated individuals, so how can he be wrong? Why should he be asking you [the public] questions on how to run the government?

LT: Now that the contents of the service trade agreement are public, what are your thoughts on it?

Liu: The terms of the agreement severely impact Taiwan. On the surface, it might seem like we hold the upper hand — China agreed to open up 80 sectors while we “only” opened up 64. However, in truth, all 64 items that we have opened up to China will go down in flames because the government has no systemic measures to keep them safe.

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