President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) likes to say that his ears are attuned to the public’s voice, but his actions often belie this claim.
If he is listening, it will be hard to miss the ever-growing list of concerns bellowed by representatives across several business sectors about the cross-strait service trade pact that was signed in June. It would also be difficult for him to ignore the vigorous protests that have been staged in front of the Legislative Yuan in recent days and a statement issued on Tuesday by many artists, academics and representatives from the publishing and media sectors calling for the agreement to be renegotiated.
If Ma is serious about wanting to hear what the public has to say, students would not be barred from attending public hearings on the service trade pact — an action that led to clashes with police yesterday.
However, it appears that Ma has become increasingly deaf to the cries of the public. Instead of being attuned to the public’s anxieties, he claims criticism of the agreement is just a figment of rumormongers’ imaginations.
The basic responsibility of a government is to look after its citizens’ well-being and be responsive to their concerns, and Ma, as head of state, should be heeding the apprehension caused by his administration’s ill-conceived rush to ink the service trade pact.
It is downright shameful to listen to him try to demonize opponents of the agreement as rumormongers when all they are trying to do is voice the public’s uneasiness over the opacity of the pact. Given that the critics include university professors, industry experts, service operators and national policy advisor Rex How (郝明義), who resigned yesterday to protest against the government’s actions, Ma’s disinclination to engage with them or address their concerns comes off as arrogant.
Opponents have voiced valid concerns over the potential adverse impact of the agreement. As How clearly put it, cross-strait policy has direct consequences for all Taiwanese and the government should not be prioritizing economic welfare at the expense of national security, nor should it be seeking to shroud the negotiations.
An opinion poll released by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research on Tuesday showed that 62.3 percent of respondents said they do not believe the Ma administration would be able to reduce the adverse impact of opening the Taiwanese service industry to China or safeguard the interest of Taiwanese businesses. The survey also found the number of people who were doubtful about the government’s ability to deal with the issue increased by 13.1 percentage points since a similar poll conducted in 2009 when the government was negotiating the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China.
Although Ma may say that survey results should be taken just as references, the numbers suggest there is a vast concern among the public about both the president and his government’s capability and credibility.
“We will attach great importance to how the government’s policies are received by the public. We will review, improve and — if necessary — stop, if particular policies receive a lot of criticism from the people… I will listen attentively to everyone’s opinion and humbly proceed with needed reforms,” Ma said in his victory speech after winning re-election on Jan. 14 last year.
Ma should remember that promise, and seek to live up to the government’s responsibility to its people before he digs Taiwan’s grave with his administration’s arbitrary and capricious policymaking.
As China pushes the world to avoid official dealings with Taiwan, leaders across the globe are realizing just how dependent they have become on the democratic nation. Taiwan is being courted for its capacity to make leading-edge computer chips. That is mostly down to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest foundry and go-to producer of chips for Apple Inc smartphones, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. Taiwan’s role in the world economy largely existed below the radar, until it came to recent prominence as the auto industry suffered shortfalls in chips used for everything from parking sensors to reducing emissions. With automakers
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
In memory of Diane Baker: one of the last working dance journalists, a true dance aficionado and dear friend. On Friday, through a mutual friend, I received the shocking news that dance critic Diane Baker had passed away suddenly at her apartment in Tianmu, Taipei. The news quickly spread, and messages of concern quickly swarmed in from the dance community in Taiwan and abroad. Her sister Sharon in the US later confirmed that Diane died of a heart attack on Wednesday last week. She was 65. Diane was a dear friend to Taiwan’s dance community. Her frequent appearance at dance performances in
A full year after an outbreak of a novel coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, the Chinese government last week finally relented to international pressure and granted access to a team of scientists from the WHO to investigate the origins of the disease. However, serious questions remain about whether the team would be able to carry out its investigation, free from the meddling hand of the Chinese state: The signs do not bode well. The team was originally due to arrive at the beginning of this month; however, their visas were abruptly canceled while several of its members were already in transit.