September, as the World Turns in Taiwan: a New and Final Name for Ma Ying-jeou?

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Saturday September 05, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Throughout history, it is common for leaders to pick up names and nicknames that speak to various qualities they possess. Most everyone can remember the stories of Richard the Lion-hearted of England as well as Erik the Red of Viking lore. Lesser known may be Charles the Bold of Burgundy who happened to be the son of Philip the Good (now that is a tough name to have to live up to). The lists go on and on and that inevitably leads to the question of how Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou has gained the name, Ma the Incompetent.

Ma himself had seemed to prefer the name Mr. Ma when he was meeting the delegation from China; CNN ingloriously spoke of him as "that man" and this website had presented a number of names on its posting of August 13. Despite all of that, this new name is gathering momentum in both Green and Blue camps as well as in foreign media.

Ma the Incompetent; that name both is and is not a surprise. It is not the only name Ma has received. Ma the Jogger, Ma the Hero, Ma the Poser, Ma the Hypocrite, Ma the Traitor, the names are many, but Ma the Incompetent is one that seems to be gaining general agreement on all sides; that is where the surprise comes in.

Ma will always have his loyal followers and dreamers, but in the pan-blue media, there has finally been an increasing questioning and admittance of Ma's lack of competency. The previously strange symbiotic relationship between the KMT old guard and Ma and his sycophants is not providing the benefits that each hoped to gain from the symbiosis. This is the first item that needs further examination.

The foreign media is the other surprise. They had consistently touted as Ma the Harvard-educated lawyer (though they always failed to mention that he never passed the bar exam anywhere). The foreign media had also consistently touted Ma as the great Asian hope and peace-bringer to the Taiwan Strait (though they also failed to mention that the only evidence of peace was that China was satisfied because it now had Ma the Incompetent in office). Yes, now, all of a sudden with the reality of Typhoon Morakot, and the obvious displeasure with Ma at home, the foreign media found itself without a bandwagon to jump on. That is the second item that needs further examination.

In the future, and in what some are now calling the "post-Ma era," these examinations will be carried out, especially as ECFA nears and Ma the Incompetent wants the people of Taiwan to put blind trust in him for the non-transparent designs he has on them or for them. For now, we just register surprise that all seem to be reaching agreement on Ma the Incompetent.

For those of us who have been on ground zero in Taiwan, always observing, always analyzing and always recording, the name Ma the Incompetent is really no surprise; we just wonder why it took so many, so long to realize it.