Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou, Clueless but Comforted?

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Wednesday September 24, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

While his popularity ratings plummet to an all time low, the saga of Ma Ying-jeou, little boy lost and clueless in the cross-currents of reality continues. First, Ma wonders why things are not going right and according to the script of the novels and stories he read as a young boy. These are the ones where ruler takes the pose of paternalistic benevolence, makes a show of listening to the people, utters the right platitudes and then everything works out. Ma has followed the script, but somehow real leadership in today's Taiwan demands more.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan is under fire because there has been no substantive response to the economy. Nevertheless Ma lamely defends his choice of Premier and Cabinet from the sidelines. After all he says many of these people weathered the Asian crisis ten years ago. That may be true, but times have changed. What worked ten years ago has no guarantee of working now. Taiwan and the world have moved on. In today's fast-paced world, yesterday's ideas and actions may not be enough. But most of all, Ma does not realize that ten years ago, Taiwan had a statesman leader at the helm, one who was actively involved. Today it has little boy lost.

Ma's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also seems to be playing with words after Beijing shot down their United Nations bid. The spokesman said, "We aimed high so we expected to be rejected." Expected to be rejected? Aimed high? Am I missing something? Using Ma's "flexible diplomacy" MOFA approached the UN in a sniveling way. Following Ma's cue, Taiwan is not defining itself as a country but only an area, the president will now be called Mr., we won't use the name Taiwan and we won't ask for full participation, just to sit in the corner and watch. This is aiming high? If MOFA is expecting to be rejected, then the least they could do is be rejected with dignity. Led by little boy lost, MOFA not only sacrificed Taiwan's dignity but had its nose rubbed in the dirt.

The saga continues. At least little boy lost has one satisfaction. The USA patted him on the head and said he has been a good little boy; he has not rocked the boat and demanded dignity for his state like the evil leader who preceded him. Such pats on the head seem to be what Ma wants; he is satisfied and feels he is on the right course.