A year ago today in Taiwan…
A year ago today, Ma won the presidential election in Taiwan and his opponent, Frank Hsieh lost. A year on, Ma’s approval rating slide from 76% to 28.6%, which took former President Chen at least 7 ½ years to achieve. Ma held a press conference on 20th March for the anniversary of winning the election. It would have made more sense if he did it on 20th May, a year after he took office. I just haven’t heard of any democratic leader holding public events on the anniversary of election victory. Arrogance or insecurity? When he heard about this press conference, Frank Hsieh said that he thought Ma was going to apologise for all the promises he had broken and the human rights violation and suffering he caused but Ma didn’t.
I can’t help but wonder what Taiwan would be like now if Hsieh had been the one who won. The first thing that came into my mind was that he would be facing impeachment by now because the KMT has 75% of the seats in the parliament and looking at what they have been like over the past year, I wouldn’t put it past them.
KMT’s attitude aside, Hsieh had proven to be a much more competent mayor than Ma before but still could not win the public over probably because the voters were affected by the public image of Chen, his family and administration and the lack of unity and support within the DPP. Nevertheless, everything Hsieh questioned Ma or predicted during election campaign has all come true and his predictive accuracy has been impressive. Hsieh has actually proposed strategies in the face of current difficulties even though they may not have been effectively publicised and communicated. I will review his proposed plans, longstanding ideas and his actions as a human rights lawyer, a political activist, a city councillor, a legislator, a mayor and Premier in future as he is one of the few, if not the only politician who has a firm set of beliefs and philosophy and probably the most consistent in his ideology and arguments (e.g. social welfare and putting the most vulnerable in priority) as a career politician in Taiwan and he is the most intelligent, articulate and resilient politician in his generation.
On 21st March, Frank Hsieh attended a Taiwan Think Tank forum and commented on Ma’s performance in his talk. Hsieh said that Ma had never apologised for breaking all of his campaign promises and the ineffective management of the country but kept attacking or making fun of the DPP. He believes that great progress can only be achieved by establishing trust in the society but the former and the current presidents have ruined it all. He added that former President is now facing legal charges but Ma’s ongoing action is doing everyone and the next generation a lot of harm.
Not only did Ma fail to achieve 633, his administration’s prediction of 4.08% growth for the last quarter in 2008 has turned out to be -8% in reality. Hsieh said that this 12% difference shows that this would be the most inaccurate economic prediction any proper statistics department could get and has probably broken the world record. He commented that Ma cannot be trusted anymore because Ma has never admitted to his mistakes and sincerely apologised.
Hsieh recalled that when the DPP was in charge, Ma slammed the DPP by saying ‘If everything is blamed on the previous government, what’s the point of handing the power to the current one? If everything is attributed to the global trend, then why do we need a president?’ However, Ma is doing exactly the same: blaming everything on Chen and the DPP, demonising them and attributing all his failings (or deliberate neglect) to the global downturn.