Strong pledges from a head of a state often reassure the public, as they reflect a strong character. It is different, however, with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Six years into his presidency, “how credible are Ma’s words?” is an oft-repeated question among Taiwanese. Campaigning for the presidency in 2008, Ma vowed to continue to seek UN membership: That turned out instead to be a push for so-called “meaningful participation in UN agencies” and a “diplomatic truce” with China.
Ma also promised that the nation’s future would be decided by Taiwanese, but this was replaced by his push for the so-called “1992 consensus” that deprives the Taiwanese of their right to decide.
How could the public ever forget his infamous “6-3-3” campaign pledge? — the vow to deliver annual GDP growth of 6 percent, annual per capita income of US$30,000 and an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent — which ended up as a standing joke.
The list goes on. Yet, rather than asking himself why he has failed to honor his promises, Ma, without the motivation of having to seek re-election, is not only making little effort to fulfill his other campaign promises, but appears to be ignoring them altogether.
Ma’s repeated statement of his wish to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) suggests that, after winning re-election, he conveniently forgot the solemn pact he made with the electorate.
In an interview published by the Chinese-language Global Views Monthly on Sunday, Ma again expressed his wish to meet with Xi, reiterating that he still sees the APEC meeting this year in Beijing as the perfect occasion for a meeting with Xi.
Ma’s call for a meeting with Xi comes in stark contrast to the promise he gave in his campaign three years ago. Then seeking re-election, Ma on Nov. 18, 2011, pledged that “I absolutely will not meet with the Chinese leader if I am re-elected.”
While some may quickly come to Ma’s defense and argue that broken promises are to be expected coming from a politician, a president — particularly one who often claims the moral high ground — ought to be held to a higher standard.
It is no wonder that public trust in Ma remains low. This is obvious from a recent Taiwan Indicators Survey Research poll. It showed that 62.2 percent of those polled regarded Ma as untrustworthy, a number that climbed from 55.4 percent in June 2008 when he was first elected.
While Ma seems to no longer care about his credibility, he ought to remember that the burden will be passed to the KMT candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Whoever it is will face recurring public queries on the issue of political accountability.
The campaign promises an elected president makes are a solemn pledge to voters. Ma ought to be condemned for his total disregard and lack of ability to follow through on his promises to his people.
Yet more important than the issue of his personal credibility is the matter of national dignity. As the president, it is Ma’s responsibility to uphold the national dignity of Taiwan.
Under normal circumstances, there is nothing wrong with having the president calling for a meeting with Xi, as it could reasonably be interpreted as the extension of an olive branch.
In Ma’s case the crux of the matter is that Beijing has many times vetoed the idea of having a Ma-Xi meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit.
To bring about the possibility of him meeting with Xi — hence achieving his personal desire to create a legacy for himself which he has made no secret of — Ma is essentially disregarding national dignity by his repeated show of unilateral willingness.
We may not care less if Ma cares enough about his political credibility to take steps toward rebuilding it.
However, it is downright despicable of Ma to flush Taiwan’s national dignity down the drain simply to cement his personal legacy.
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.