‘Arbitrary’ policies could make voters turn on Ma: adviser

By Huang Wei-chu and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 3

Public opinion could turn against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the 2016 presidential election if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration continue their “arbitrary policymaking” and go against people’s wishes, a national policy adviser to the president said yesterday.

The adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned the KMT administration about alienating the public after Ma insisted on introducing several unpopular policies despite having held a series of gatherings earlier this month with Cabinet members and senior and national policy advisers to invite suggestions on his national policies.

“President Ma’s low approval rating should have set his alarm bells ringing, yet he appears to remain stiff-necked in his policymaking, failing to meet the people’s wishes for better livelihoods, while unilaterally insisting on pushing through policies the people do not welcome,” the adviser said.

Citing the approved capital gains tax on securities transactions as an example — which is set to take effect on Jan. 1 next year — the policy adviser said that while the controversial tax has received opposition from both the pan-green and pan-blue camps, Ma still clings obstinately to his chosen course and has decided to introduce the tax policy as scheduled.

“If such stubbornness persists, the KMT could face a change in public sentiment [unfavorable to the party] in the next presidential election in 2016,” the policy adviser said, adding that Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford’s (張盛和) recent announcement to push forward the passage of an energy tax if the nation’s economy grows more than 3.5 percent in the second half of next year would further irritate the public.

“What is the Ma administration doing trying to impose an energy tax when we have yet to cool down over the passage of the capital gains tax,” the policy adviser quoted some pan-blue camp supporters as saying.

Other national policy advisers also raised concerns over Ma’s perceived disinclination to take advices pertaining to major government policies.

A participant at a gathering between Ma and several policy advisers last week, who also requested anonymity, cited national policy adviser Huang Kuang Kuo (黃光國) as saying that their genuine advice to the government would be “pointless” if it was not valued and taken into consideration by various department heads.

Huang allegedly made the remark following a suggestion to review the results of the capital gains tax one year after its implementation tendered by national policy adviser Hsu Wen-bin (許文彬) was dismissed.

Another national policy adviser, who has a background in the financial sector, said that he also thought that Ma should listen to varied opinions when making policy decisions.

“Oftentimes it is not Ma’s concepts of reform that are a problem, but rather the inopportune time he chooses to promote such reforms,” the policy adviser added.

“The key to successfully promoting a ‘sensible economy’ is facilitating government policies in an attentive manner, which can be achieved by ensuring that the policy is thorough enough and communicating adequately with concerned parties,” national policy adviser Chiang Yan-ting (江彥霆) said.