The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has more than doubled its budget for promoting President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) cross-strait achievements this year, recently announcing NT$5.5 million (US$179,900) in bids for commercials to coincide with the seventh anniversary of Ma’s inauguration.
A council budget plan shows that it intended to escalate publicity campaigns far ahead of Ma’s final year in office, as its communication budget climbed by 153 percent this year to about NT$43 million from last year’s NT$28 million, including nearly NT$28 million for publicizing the government’s China policies — up from about NT$12 million last year.
The council allocated NT$21.8 million for media advertisement this year — more than twice as much as last year’s NT$9.76 million — including NT$10.8 million for television commercials, more than double last year’s NT$5 million, according to the plan.
Print media ad funding nearly doubled to NT$7 million from last year’s NT$3.27 million, while online ad money jumped from NT$1.48 million last year to NT$4 million this year — accounting for the largest expansion in the council’s budget this year, the plan showed.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) questioned the government’s promotional efforts in the final year of Ma’s second-term, saying that the Ma administration spent too much on advertising in a bid to battle public dissatisfaction with the government
The government has been criticized for “under the table” dealings on cross-strait policies, but instead of proposing improvements, it is under the illusion that it could just lavish money on advertising to engage with the public, he said.
The administration is beyond redemption, he added.
Nanhua University communication professor Tsai Hong-pin (蔡鴻濱) said that the government’s poor performance has led to a lack of media coverage of its administrative efforts.
“The government is making a fool of the public by running commercials to praise its own work, which has limited results in boosting [the government’s reputation],” he said.
Government officials paid by taxpayers should have done their jobs properly, but they have not exercised effective administration and have raided public coffers to finance public relations campaigns, which “doubly fleeced” the public, he said.
In response, the council said that it has routinely mapped out annual budgets to improve communication with the public and the bid recently announced had nothing to do with popularizing Ma’s achievements, but was instead a scheduled program to advance the government’s China policies, including institutionalizing a cross-strait negotiating mechanism.
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