President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is naive if he thinks he can push through pension reforms single-handedly, instead of by building a consensus through a national affairs conference as proposed by the opposition, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.
“The national affairs conference would be remembered as Ma’s achievement, not as a proposal made by Tsai Ing-wen, but he still won’t do it,” Tsai said in a radio interview yesterday.
Tsai said Ma had benefited from the national affairs conference in 1991, which initiated a constitutional amendment that made direct presidential elections possible.
Ma has underestimated the problems surrounding various pension programs and the nation’s economy, which could worsen and eventually become similar to Greece’s, she said.
“The president has not adequately executed [government policies], does not know how to lead and has registered historically low credibility and approval ratings. He only cares about benefits his own political party and his re-election as Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] chairman,” Tsai said.
Despite Ma’s efforts to create a stellar legacy, “his presidential legacy is set [to be unfavorable] if he doesn’t take any action,” she said.
Now is the time to implement pension reform as there are no major elections scheduled before the end of next year, she said.
The former DPP presidential candidate said that since China, Japan and South Korea are all going through political leadership transitions, and Japan’s and South Korea’s relations with China could undergo changes, Asian political dynamics are currently in a state of flux.
Tsai called for Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) to understand that diversity and democracy are deeply ingrained in Taiwanese society and to take into account how Taiwanese would respond to an increase in political and economic pressure from Beijing.
“It is important [for Taiwan and China] to engage, understand each other and maintain a peaceful and stable relationship, but China cannot force its ideology onto Taiwan,” Tsai said.
Tsai said she would not rule out a visit to China, but would only make the trip if it benefited the public and the DPP.
Asked if she is interested in running in the presidential election in 2016, Tsai said it is too early to tell and it is not solely for her to decide. The decision to run for president would depend on the willingness of the public to rally around a specific candidate.
Looking back on last year’s presidential election, Tsai said the DPP did not lose the election simply because it refused to accept the so-called “1992 consensus.”
It was because the so-called 1992 consensus was successfully molded into a “fear card” and some voters believed that Taiwan’s economy would suffer if the DPP won the election, she said.