President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has come down with seven “illnesses”: incompetence, inefficiency, chaotic policymaking, apathy and numbness, money-wasting addiction, an inability to fulfill campaign promises, and a tendency to build trouble-ridden public infrastructure, according to a pamphlet recently published by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The pamphlet, titled A Diagnosis of the Ma Administration’s Illnesses (馬政府有病臨床診斷書), cites government statistics and documents to identify seven problems plaguing the Ma administration during its oft-criticized rule over the past five years.
While the annual budgets under Ma’s government have been far larger than yearly budgets during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) term, the nation has seen a decline in domestic investment, a lack of meaningful infrastructure projects, a higher unemployment rate and a drop in real incomes since Ma took office in 2008, it says.
“The Ma administration’s annual expenditures average NT$1.92 trillion [US$64.8 billion], about NT$272.9 billion more than the NT$1.65 trillion spent annually by Chen’s government,” it says.
“However, under Ma’s reign, the nation’s real wages have deteriorated to the level of 14 years ago, the average GDP growth rate has dropped below 3 percent, the unemployment rate has shot up to more than 4 percent and domestic fixed investment has been halved to NT$0.52 trillion, from NT$1.05 trillion during Chen’s term,” it says.
The pamphlet also accuses the Ma administration of being apathetic toward its problematic policymaking and government officials’ “careless mistakes,” citing the collapse of the judicial system, the recent spate of food scares, the severance of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Republic of the Gambia and the administration’s 12 downward revisions of GDP growth forecasts since last year.
“In spite of everything, no one has apologized or stepped down to take political responsibility over these matters,” the pamphlet says.
The Ma administration has sought to whitewash its incompetence by holding large scale money-consuming festive events, signifying its addiction to wasting taxpayer money, the pamphlet says.
The economic benefits of such events are usually not proportional to the money spent on them, the brochure said, and the public facilities constructed for them often ended up becoming “mosquito-breeding sites.”
The brochure cites as an example the “Ma Ying-Jeou Hall” (馬英九奮鬥館) constructed by the Miaoli County Government after Ma took office, which cost NT$30 million to build and NT$170 million to expropriate lands and repair nearby roads.
“The [Miaoli] government said at the time that the hall could help generate an annual tourism revenue of NT$200 million for the county, but it has been closed to the public for some time for ‘interior renovations,’” the pamphlet says.
The brochure also called the Taipei International Flora Expo in 2010 the biggest “money pit” in history, as it cost the government approximately NT$13.6 billion, a sum equivalent to the nation’s total annual budget for flood control projects.
More alarming is the inferior quality of public infrastructure projects constructed by the Ma administration, the pamphlet said, specifying a 30m crack found on the 40km Wugu-Yangmei Overpass in August, just four months after it was opened.