Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou, the Cracks Have Become Fissures, Part II, Ma 's Impotency

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Tuesday January 06, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Ma Ying-jeou is impotent, impotent in his party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and because of that he is impotent to make any long-term constructive contributions to the nation of Taiwan. Ma watchers sensed this early on when they noted that Taipei City had been run as a much tighter ship under Chen Shui-bian than under Ma. These thoughts were further confirmed as far back as July 2005. At that time Ma became Chairperson of the KMT and made his two tell-tale promises, 1) that he would divest the KMT of its ill-gotten assets and 2) that he would push forward Taiwan's needed arms budget in the KMT controlled Legislative Yuan. Despite the fact that his party controlled the Legislative Yuan, he failed miserably on both counts.

Thus while the rest of the world oohed and aahed at Ma's rise to power and his becoming President, those who knew his character could see the hand writing on the wall.

The stalwarts of the KMT had earlier been disappointed when Ma got enough of the young vote to beat out the challenge of Lien Chan for Chairmanship of the party in 2005, but they bided their time. They knew they controlled the assets and money of the party, and they knew Ma not only couldn't touch them, but that he eventually would need them.

When the KMT won a veto-overriding two thirds majority in the Legislative Yuan in early 2008, one could see their corrupting power coming out even before the presidential elections. With veto-overriding power, it mattered little to them whether the Ma won the presidency or Frank Hsieh. Though they would have preferred the weak Ma, whoever would be elected was a person they could out-veto. It is with that in mind that shortly afterwards, four KMT legislators felt emboldened to storm into Frank Hsieh's campaign offices, ask for payment and start ordering people around.

Around him, Ma has also assembled a bunch of gullible Gee-whiz kids who when they are not fawning all over Ma are providing him with half-baked schemes. They are the ones who convinced Ma that by opening the doors to China he could raise the nation's growth rate from 5.7 percent under Chen Shui-bian to at least six percent. Unfortunately the Gee-whiz kids (lost in their own dreams of grandeur) had no idea of what was developing in the real world. Ma even admits now, some seven months into his presidency that they were out of touch and he will be lucky to reach two per cent.

China certainly remains one of Taiwan's problems, but Ma's impotency is even far greater. Ma's run-to-China pony has fizzled and he has no more ponies left in the stable. Further in addition to being subservient to the old guard KMT he now is also at the mercy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to throw him a few crumbs. This is Taiwan's problem. What people worry about is not whether the image-dependent psyche of Ma will survive but whether the damage that is being done to Taiwan's democracy (less than a year into Ma's presidency) can be healed or will it get worse.