Fling Open the Doors. Be a President for All the People
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 31, 2012
Summary: Voters have rewarded Ma Ying-jeou with a second term. Therefore he should be bolder. He should be more decisive. He should fling open the doors. He should take on greater challenges. He should make the difficult decisions, He should leave behind a better system of government. During the next four years President Ma will have the opportunity to leave behind his own legacy. President Ma, the eyes of the nation are upon you.
Full Text Below:
President Ma Ying-jeou has won his bid for reelection. The cabinet reshuffle is now in full swing. Voters have entrusted President Ma with another four-year term. He now faces many difficult challenges. Whatever leadership President Ma exhibits during his second term will have a major impact on the nation's future.
Over half the voters backed him. President Ma's policies have been affirmed. In particular, his promotion of cross-Strait reconciliation has received popular support. This means the public on Taiwan looks forward to more cross-strait exchanges and more beneficial results from these exchanges. The Ma administration must ensure that more people benefit from his policies. It must demonstrate vision. It must increase the level of cross-strait exchanges, It must promote exchanges between the younger generation. Besides promoting trade, investment, and procurement, it must enhance mutual understanding between the public on both sides. It must enable Taiwan to exert a positive influence on social evolution on the Chinese Mainland.
Cross-strait exchanges should be increased, because Taiwan has more experience with democracy and liberalization. Taiwan is implementing democratic values. It is demonstrating its spiritual strength. Therefore it can serve as a point of reference for the Mainland. Democracy and freedom include respect for human rights, pluralism and tolerance. They have enormous significance for cross-Strait conflict resolution and the cross-Strait consensus. If the two sides can gradually resolve their disputes, it will be a blessing not just to the public on Taiwan. It will be a blessing for the public on both sides of the Strait.
Ma Ying-jeou received 6.89 million votes and won a clear majority. But Tsai Ing-wen received 6.09 million votes. James Soong received 370,000 votes. Clearly 6.46 million voters did not want Ma Ying-jeou as their president, Many of them feel uneasy about the direction and pace of Ma's cross-Strait policy, These people are also President Ma's clients.
Ma Ying-jeou received 51% of the vote. He won. He must now strive to fulfill the role of a "president for all the people." He must dialogue with the remaining 48% of the electorate. He must listen to them. He must understand what they are saying He must actively communicate his policy, especially cross-Strait policy, He must resolve the concerns that motivated these people to vote against him. He must ease the obvious social schism between the Blue and Green halves of the community. After all, fierce internal opposition is certain to hobble cross-Strait policy.
Many of the votes cast for Ma Ying-jeou were cast on the basis of party affiliation. But a head of state represents a nation. He or she represents the interests of all the people. And so it is for the Republic of China. Once one becomes president, there can be no partisan bias. President Ma has been criticized for drawing from too limited a circle of experts. His confidants and staffers are too far removed from the grassroots, They are too inbred. Ma is a national leader. His decision-making must be even-handed. He must tolerate different ideas. He must respect opposing views. His greatest concern must be the future of the people as a whole. He must attend to the long-term well-being of the next generation, and the long term prosperity of the nation. During his second term President Ma will no longer face re-election pressures. But he will remain under public scrutiny. The public must remain vigilant and never relax. President Ma too cannot afford to relax.
The greatest difficulty Ma will encounter during his second term, will be the "lame duck effect" that will appear two years before leaving office. A struggle for succession will have begun. Fence-sitters will be seeing which way the wind blows. Policy may be difficult to implement. Political promises may be unconvincing. But this is precisely when President Ma should focus on structural and institutional matters. If he can lay the groundwork for sound policy, future policy will be easier to implement.
Demands for justice can move people because the gap between rich and poor has provoked enormous resentment. It is impossible to eliminate the gap between rich and poor. But it is possible to help the disadvantaged and salvage the social welfare system. The government has long been short of money and manpower. It must provide more resources and support.
An aging population and a declining birthrate have also cast a pall over our future, This is a trend that cannot be avoided and will be difficult to reverse. A nation consists of individual human beings, The problems faced by individual human beings are the nation's biggest problems. The government must make long term plans for a shrinking population. It must help schools transform themselves and teachers change occupations. It must enhance childcare services. It must build long term care systems. It must relax immigration rules to increase the population.
Voters have rewarded Ma Ying-jeou with a second term. Therefore he should be bolder. He should be more decisive. He should fling open the doors. He should take on greater challenges. He should make the difficult decisions, He should leave behind a better system of government. During the next four years President Ma will have the opportunity to leave behind his own legacy. President Ma, the eyes of the nation are upon you.