Love For Taiwan is not the Exclusive Franchise of Any Minority or Any Political Party
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 20, 2011
Three years ago, President Ma Ying-jeou delivered his inaugural address. People across the nation witnessed a second change in ruling parties in the Republic of China. Three years later, President Ma Ying-jeou walked out onto Ketegelan Boulevard and met with the press. Ma Ying-jeou's action underscored how much importance he attached to his words. Needless to say, it also underscored how much he wants to be re-elected six months from now.
During the press conference, President Ma proposed that Tainan Airport become the ninth airport to offer cross-strait direct flights. He underscored the need for "generational justice," Young people, he said, are the future of Taiwan. He stressed that "Love for Taiwan" was not the exclusive franchise of any minority or any particular political party. Experience has shown that a Closed Door Policy leads to national decline. Only opening a nation up can bring prosperity, can lay a foundation for the next generation. Only that exemplifies genuine "love for Taiwan."
This is what we have long maintained. We call on ruling and opposition politicians to refrain from divisive political language. We ask them not to hurt the feelings of the majority on Taiwan, merely for electoral advantage. Everyone on Taiwan loves Taiwan. Taiwan is our home. It is where we have chosen to settle. Our achievements and the welfare of the next generation, all depend upon prosperity and growth on Taiwan.
Recall the situation before the second change in ruling parties. The Republic of China had fallen victim to wholesale corruption, perpetrated by its own head of state, Eight years of scorched earth diplomacy had reduced diplomatic support for the ROC to a new low. The economy was in stagnation. Ma Ying-jeou was elected by a landslide. This reflected public demand for clean politics, economic liberalization, social harmony, and cross-Strait peace.
Over the past three years, the Ma administration has been buffeted by one wave after another. The global financial tsunami, the recession, and Typhoon Morakot severely traumatized the Liu cabinet. This was followed in quick succession by the H1N1 Influenza epidemic, which left the administration gasping for air. Amidst these difficulties, the Ma administration promoted cross-Strait direct links full force. It opened Taiwan to tourists from the Mainland. It brought the two sides closer to each other than they have ever been. It eased the harm done by the financial tsunami. It signed the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), writing a new page in cross-Strait economic and trade cooperation. It gained the ROC increased international space. The Ma administration gained the ROC observer status at the WHO, under the name "Chinese Taipei." It succeeded magnificently in gaining visa-free status for ROC passport holders, with 114 countries. These achievements are not something the DPP can dismiss merely by accusing the Ma administration of "pandering to [Mainland] China,"
In March, the Executive Yuan Research, Development and Evaluation Commission conducted a study. President Ma had over 400 planks in his election platform. They included "completed" and "under implementation with phased results." Ma fulfilled 90% of his election promises. These promises include National Pensions, Labor Pensions, the five cities restructuring, government reorganization, taxes for civil service employees and teachers, and the luxury tax. Every one of these was discussed endlessly by previous administrations, but all to no effect.
Yet all these achievements have failed to ensure President Ma Ying-jeou's popularity, which has fallen precipitously since he was first elected. A string of large and small by-elections have been held over the past three years, in which the ruling KMT endured repeated defeats. Taiwan emerged from the financial tsunami. According to the Lausanne Institute of Management, Taiwan's global competitiveness rating lept to number six. Yet most members of the public insist they have experienced no recovery. Why not?
Consider cross-Strait diplomacy. The ROC is in a difficult situation internationally. The Ma administration has made the best of a bad situation. It should not worry about the opposition party criticizing it for "surrending its sovereignty to Mainland China." On the contrary, the Ma administration should ask itself whether it is too tentative in its promotion of cross-Strait exchanges. Is it more concerned with formal agreements than with substantive progress? For example, Mainland investments on Taiwan are subject to strict controls. Mainland students studying on Taiwan are subject to all sorts of limitations. Even students from Taiwan studying on Mainland China, cannot obtain military service deferments.
Consider domestic policy. To the opposition party, the five cities restructuring, may have seemed like a farce. The five cities are still in the middle of break in period. The Executive Yuan will be reorganized early next year. How will the various ministries be reorganized? Everyone is worried. Second-generation health insurance has finally passed. But a high price was paid. The Director of Health was forced to resign. Ma ended the controversy over the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical controversy. But no one praised the president for his resolve. Even President Ma's nomination of important officials aroused major storms.
All sorts of major policies were pushed through. Yet criticisms outnumber praise. The reason why is not complicated. First, the government agencies concerned failed to make comprehensive plans. Second, even when they made comprehensive plans, they lacked confidence. They did not persevere, They compromised, and debased their accomplishments. Third, government officials lacked the ability and courage to defend their policies. Fourth, the President is still accustomed to inner circle decision-making. Before launching policy, he failed to solicit the views of the public. Only when disputes arose, did he rush to put out the fires.
President Ma is a rare bird -- an honest political leader. He is decent. He is not weak. Still less is he incompetent. He has a clear vision of the direction the nation ought to take. He must not be afraid to implement that vision. He must not allow himself to become mired in details and lose his focus. The ROC is a democratic society. For 35% of the public to oppose you is normal. Solicit a wide range of opinions before making a decision, But in the end, arrive at your own decision. Make your administration work as a team. This is the least we can expect from a leader. President Ma: Have confidence. Be a leader.