China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 8, 2015
Executive Summary: The Executive Yuan National Development Council recently announced that the public satisfaction rating over living standards rose to 82%. Ma Ying-jeou was immediately met with media ridicule. Facebook users wondered "What is the most frightening sentence [you have come across on Facebook]?" Some said the most frightening sentence they came across on Facebook was a call by fans of Ma Ying-jeou to stay on as president for another term. Churchill once said that a ruthless attitude towards its political leaders is the sign of a great nation. In 1998, when Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian lost his bid at reelection, this quote was often bandied about. President Ma Ying-jeou must surely understand how Chen Shui-bian felt back then.
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The Executive Yuan National Development Council recently announced that the public satisfaction rating over living standards rose to 82%. Ma Ying-jeou was immediately met with media ridicule. Facebook users wondered "What is the most frightening sentence [you have come across on Facebook]?" Some said the most frightening sentence they came across on Facebook was a call by fans of Ma Ying-jeou to stay on as president for another term. Churchill once said that a ruthless attitude towards its political leaders is the sign of a great nation. In 1998, when Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian lost his bid at reelection, this quote was often bandied about. President Ma Ying-jeou must surely understand how Chen Shui-bian felt back then.
During Ma's term of office, he enabled ROC passport holders to visit 142 countries, visa-free. He enabled people from Taiwan to hold their heads high in the international community, and people from the Mainland to feel envious. He enabled nearly 10 million tourists to visit Taiwan and generate over 400 billion NT in revenues. Cross-Strait relations are the best they have been in 60 years. Over 10 years ago, the Mainland passed its "anti-secession law". The clouds of war that hung over the Taiwan Strait back then, are now long forgotten. Ma proposed an East China Sea Peace Initiative. He signed a Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement that resolved the 40-year old fisheries dispute between Taiwan and Japan. For this he was awarded the Eisenhower International Peace Prize. Crime, suicides, accidents, and drunk driving accident rates in particular, have alll fallen dramatically. These are just a few of the "Little Things that Make Us Happy", Yet none of these could prevent anti-Ma sentiment from becoming PC and de rigeur. We believe there are reasons behind this that Ma Ying-jeou must examine.
Political reality may be unfair to President Ma. His approval has hit rock bottom. Domestically, he is a lame duck with eight months left to his term. What he can accomplish at this point in time, is limited. Therefore he must make a clear distinction between policy implementation and policy direction. He must direct his efforts wisely. He must do what he can for the public on Taiwan. He must achieve something of substance. Only that will consolidate his place in history.
First consider Ma's policy implementation. Although he has only eight months left in his term, Ma Ying-jeou nevertheless occupies the office of the president. He should be thinking about how to make the best use of his authority. He must not exceed his powers. But he should think about how to benefit the nation, and achieve something of substance. For example, not long ago, in order to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the war, President Ma Ying-jeou issued a War Victory Medal which he awarded to select veterans of the war. One 98-year-old veteran was so moved that he said, "The refrigerator door is now open. It is no longer cold." His words touched peoples' hearts. They comforted veterans who 70 years ago defended the nation against Japanese conquest. They left behind a record that will remain after President Ma steps down.
When it comes to comforting war veterans, President Ma is no lame duck. Such actions require only empathy and the wise use of his authority as chief executive. Ma does not have to be a lame duck. Consider the way the sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, and the human rights of comfort women have been represented in the history books. Ma Ying-jeou has sharply rebutted former President Lee Teng-hui's misrepresentations. This was the right thing to do. This is Ma's prime mission and responsibility as a President of the Republic of China. It also shows that President Ma Ying-jeou's place in history and the Republic of China are inseparable.
The STA has suffered a serious setback. The MTA has been shelved. Ma Ying-jeou must continue to promote improved cross-Strait relations regardless. He must take one step at a time. He must not assume that a change in ruling parties is imminent. He must not assume that his cross-Strait achievements will be credited to others, and therefore devote less energy to cross-Strait relations. Every improvement in cross-Strait relations counts. He is not working on behalf o fthe opposition party. He is working on behalf of Taiwan's stability and security. Given the current cross-Straits atmosphere, one must of course wait to see how Beijing reacts. Ma Ying-jeou's efforts may not lead to a breakthrough, but he must make an effort nevertheless.
Ma Ying-jeou may be on the way out. But that does not mean he can exercise less tact when commenting on cross-Strait relations. Lien Chan was invited to the Mainland, to meet with Xi Jinping and participate in the victory parade. Mr. Lien could perhaps have been more precise in his public statements. But he was maintaining high-level dialogue between the KMT and the CCP. He was helping to ensure cross-Strait peace. He was making a contribution to Taiwan. President Ma's criticisms of Mr. Lien were over the line, and may have sent Beijing the wrong message. Taiwan must of course come first. But we should adopt a more inclusive attitude toward the people and government on the Mainland. When appropriate, we should show greater empathy. We should walk a mile in their shoes. This does not mean sacrificing Taiwan's interests. It does mean showing empathy and promoting win/win.
And finally, consider policy direction. This is where Ma Ying-jeou fell short during his administration. He left too much undone, and what he did, he did poorly. For this he owes the public a sincere apology. Ma Ying-jeou did much for Taiwan. But he failed it in other ways. For example, starting salaries for young people are too low. Housing prices are too high. Reneging on his "six three three" promises provoked public discontent. That may not have been entirely Ma's fault. To some extent all nations that practice democracy and capitalism have suffered the same fate. But national leaders are required to bear total responsibility.
On those occasions when Ma chooses to do nothing, he should allow the KMT to assume responsibility. Ma Ying-jeou is no longer KMT chairman. He is merely an ordinary party member. He may express his feelings about the KMT. But on other matters, he must let Chairman Eric Chu assume full responsibility. He must let presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu assume responsibility for the success or failure of her election campaign. Ma should not reduce himself to the status of campaign worker, standing on firing line trading fire with the opposition. Ma Ying-jeou will soon become a former head of state. The status of former head of state, strictly speaking, does not belong to any individual or party. Ma should transcend attachment to any particular party. He should transcend attachment to blue or green. He should speak out on behalf of the Republic of China as a whole. Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui failed to live up to this standard. We hope Ma Ying-jeou can and will.
The facts of history have yet to settle. Political accomplishments will not rot. History will eventually render a just verdict. On this point, the person who most needs to show confidence and patience is none other than Ma Ying-jeou himself.
馬英九立刻遭到媒體訕笑；臉書有人徵求「最恐怖的一句話」， 署名「馬英九」的網友留言要繼續連任總統，被推為恐怖第一名。 邱吉爾曾說：「對政治領袖無情，是偉大民族的象徵。」這句話，1 998年連任台北市長失敗的陳水扁曾經援用過，此時馬英九總統， 想必比當時的陳水扁感受更深刻。
讓台灣人在國際間揚眉吐氣，大陸人更羨慕不已； 來台旅客創下近千萬人紀錄，創造觀光收入超過4000億元； 目前是兩岸關係60年來最好階段，10餘年前大陸通過「 反分裂國家法」，台海戰雲密布的恐懼早已遺忘； 提出東海和平倡議進而簽署「台日漁業協議」，解決了台日之間長達 40年的漁業糾紛，並因此獲頒艾森豪國際和平獎；台灣犯罪、 自殺人數、交通事故，特別是酒駕肇事都大幅減少的小確幸成果， 雖有這些政績做為後盾，但仍制止不住反馬成為王道、 酸馬成為時尚，相信背後必定有值得馬英九反省檢討之處。
月任期，能夠施為之處已相當有限。正因如此， 他更應明確區分政策「有為」與「不為」，把力量放在刀口上， 為台灣盡心、為人民盡力，做出一些實事， 才能真正鞏固他的歷史定位。
該想想如何運用元首高度，做不超越能力範圍，卻又有福國實益、 利民實效的事情。舉例而言，不久前，為紀念抗戰70周年， 馬英九破例頒發總統署名的抗戰勝利紀念章給抗戰老兵， 其中有位高齡98歲的老兵感動的說：「冰箱打開，不冷了。」 這段話令人動容，撫慰了70年前為捍衛國家而戰的老兵， 也在馬總統卸任前添下佳話。
善用元首高度就能做到，讓他仍是一匹健壯的勇腳馬。與此類似的， 就是在釣魚台主權、慰安婦人權與抗日主導權的史觀詮釋上， 對於李登輝前總統一系列謬論，馬英九嚴正反駁，這是正確的強勢。 一方面，這是身為中華民國總統無可旁貸的使命與責任，二方面， 馬英九總統的歷史定位與中華民國已不可分。
馬英九還是要把力氣集中在兩岸關係的續進上，多走一步算一步。 不可以認為政黨輪替的機會變大，擔心兩岸成果會「為人作嫁」， 而在兩岸關係的推進上懈怠。因為，傾盡全力累積兩岸關係的厚度， 不是為了在野黨，而是為了台灣的安定與安全。當然， 以目前兩岸的氛圍，北京的態度轉趨觀望， 馬英九努力也不一定能打破這樣的觀望，但該做的努力，仍要做。
這次連戰應邀前往大陸與習近平舉行連習會並參加閱兵， 連先生發言分寸掌握也許不夠精準，但他維繫國共高層對話， 持續兩岸和平發展，對台灣還是有很大的貢獻， 馬總統對連先生的批評卻過度了些，可能對大陸釋出了錯誤的訊息。 台灣優先固然要維持，但也應擁有對大陸民眾乃至政府更大的包容。 應適時的採取換位思考，從大陸民眾的角度，多想一層。 這不是放棄台灣利益，而是創造互利的同理心法則。
真誠的向人民道歉。馬英九對台灣當然有功，但也非無過。 例如年輕人起薪低、房價高、六三三跳票這些民眾首怨。 即便究其實情，這中間不完全是馬總統的努力不夠， 部分是實施資本主義的民主國家普遍遭遇的困境， 但國家領袖就該要概括承受。
以一介黨員，表達對國民黨的衷心祝福即可，其他的， 就讓黨主席朱立倫負起全般的操盤之責， 讓總統候選人洪秀柱挑起選舉成敗大擔。 馬不必把自己矮化成選戰炮手，頻頻站在火線上與在野黨叫陣， 馬英九即將成為卸任元首，卸任元首的名器， 嚴格說來並不屬於個人或個別政黨，放下政黨的小執，展現「 超越藍綠、只為台灣發言」的高度，這樣的高度， 過去在陳水扁與李登輝身上都沒看到，希望可以在馬英九身上看到。