A Content-Free Tsai Ing-wen: More Frightening than Ma Ying-jeou or Chen Shui-bian
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 13, 2015
Executive Summary: Rising public opinion in the Internet era, along with a rising Mainland
China under globalization, is forcing rapid change on Taiwan. The wrong
choice of ROC leader could force the entire nation to pay a painful
price. Former president Chen Shui-bian and current president Ma
Ying-jeou presidents are well-known examples. But another kind of leader
is even worse, a leader afraid to make decisions. Such a leader will
destroy Taiwan's chances and throttle Taiwan's lifeblood.
Full Text Below:
Rising public opinion in the Internet era, along with a rising Mainland China under globalization, is forcing rapid change on Taiwan. The wrong choice of ROC leader could force the entire nation to pay a painful price. Former president Chen Shui-bian and current president Ma Ying-jeou presidents are well-known examples. But another kind of leader is even worse, a leader afraid to make decisions. Such a leader will destroy Taiwan's chances and throttle Taiwan's lifeblood.
Decisions are often multi-faceted. Right or wrong are often compromises. In other words, the decisions made by national leaders are seldom absolutely right. They are merely relatively wrong. If one is decisive, one may confuse failure with success. But if one is indecisive, whatever was right with one's policy may remain unseen, while whatever was wrong will become highly visible. One will wind up spinning one's wheels and going nowhere. Any opportunity to minimize the damage will be lost, and the nation's strength will be eroded.
Tsai Ing-wen's refusal to lead remains our greatest concern. On February 14, Tsai Ing-wen posted an article on Facebook, entitled "Pioneering an Era that Truly Belongs to the People". Her 1500 word delaration concerning the DPP presidential primaries revealed no signs of leadership or concrete policy proposals. All that remained was a disclaimer that "I am not Chen Shui-bian. I am not Ma Ying-jeou."
Based on Tsai Ing-wen's words and deeds over the years, she is indeed not Chen Shui-bian. Nor is she Ma Ying-jeou. But this by itself is hardly reassuring or encouraging. Neither Ma nor Chen are models of leadership. Chen Shui-bian was too pragmatic and opportunistic. He abused his power, engaged in corruption power, and sowed pandemonium. Ma Ying-jeou, by contrast, inhabited an ivory tower. He was inflexible and knew only how to "go by the book". He alienated the people and lost their hearts and minds. But at least these two presidents had a sense of direction. They were at least willing to make decisions.
What about Tsai Ing-wen? She does not appear to be as opportunistic as Chen Shui-bian. But neither does she appear to be sufficiently pragmatic. She is not as inflexible as Ma Ying-jeou. But she also lacks Ma Ying-jeou's burning idealism. This convinces us that Tsai Ing-wen is neither Chen Shui-bian nor Ma Ying-jeou. But not being Ma or Chen does no mean that Tsai Ing-wen will be a good leader. For this, we must observe Tsai Ing-wen's behavior.
Tsai Ing-wen always answers a question with a question. She never provides any answers. When asked about her position on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, she passed the buck to Ma Ying-jeou. She said, "The AIIB issue has provoked tremendous controversy over the past few days. After seven years, President Ma Ying-jeou still does not seem to understand why so many people are suspicious, lack trust, and cannot relax." So, should Taiwan join the AIIB? Tsai refused to answer. But the opportunities the AIIB will bring to Taiwan will not wait. A Eurasian tectonic plate is taking shape. The global landscape is changing. The world will not wait for Taiwan.
When the time comes to make decisions, Tsai Ing-wen habitually passes the buck to "public opinion". She refuses to state her own views. When asked why she went from supporting the cabinet system to opposing the cabinet system, she gave a short answer. "Current mainstream public opinion demands direct presidential elections." She refused to say that the cabinet system was bad, and that was why she opposed it. She merely passed the buck on to "mainstream public opinion."
Whenever a decision must be made, Tsai Ing-wen often resorts to procedural obfuscation, thereby ducking questions of substance. When addressing constitutional reform, Tsai Ing-wen never forgets to mention the threshold requirement for a "national conference". If the KMT disagrees, and constitutional reform is delayed, she blames the KMT. If the KMT agrees, and the President convenes a conference, Tsai Ing-wen adds procedural obstacles. She asserts that "The current government has entered the caretaker government stage. It lacks the necessary public confidence." She opposes the President convening a national conference. She ignores the fact that historically speaking national conferences have always been convened by the President, as they are duly authorized to do so. This sort of "head I win, tails you lose" strategy may matter little when one is an opposition leader. But this is not genuine leadership. If this is how Tsai Ing-wen intends to govern once elected president, we should all be worried.
We must remind Tsai Ing-wen that when the people elect a leader, they are not electing a yes-man who refers everything to "mainstream public opinion". If "mainstream public opinion" becomes an excuse for shirking responsibility, then we may as well make a polling company president. Everything will be decided by "mainstream public opinion". No policy debate will be required. Everytyhing will be decided by large sample public opinion polls. After all, "mainstream public opinion" has the final say.
A society unable to solve problems cannot progress. A leader who shirks responsibility, cannot lead a society and resolve its problems. Taiwan faces many tangled structural problems. Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou enjoyed highly popularity when first elected. Voters overlooked two considerations, the fact that neither man saw the larger picture. As a result the nation's problems worsened. ROC voters need a more rigorous test of leadership ability, one with a high degree of transparency. Only then can Taiwan break the impasse. Tsai Ing-wen boasts that she is neither Chen Shui-bian nor Ma Ying-jeou. That is not a bad thing. But never taking a stand, and never making a decision, in order to evade voter scrutiny, is even more worrisome than Ma Ying-jeou or Chen Shui-bian.
Our advice to Tsai Ing-wen is the very phrase she often repeats, "Think about it". Thinking about it is the last thing Tsai Ing-wen needs. What she needs to do is offer concrete proposals for public scrutiny.
2015年04月13日 04:10 主筆室