Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou Rules by Fiat, Why then is No One Listening?

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Thursday January 07, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

The more one watches Ma Ying-jeou's distant management style, the more one thinks of Swift's floating island of Laputa in his satire, "Gulliver's Travels". From high above, the king of the floating island communicates with his subjects down below via written orders, directives and messages lowered in a basket. His subjects must respond in kind placing requests and petitions in the basket to be hauled up for consideration. Swift is satirizing the Hanover King George I of England who did not speak the language of the people and preferred to rule from afar (Germany to be exact). Ma of course does speak a faltering Taiwanese, but his mind is not on Taiwan. It's elsewhere dreaming of restoring the mythic Republic of China that never lost the Civil War and still rules China by its 1947 Constitution.

Unfortunately despite the many messages Ma sends down in a basket, most are not picking up the cues. Observe the following. Ma sent down the message about the great deal he made for the nation by inking a beef import agreement with the United States. Of course he did it by fiat without consultation. So somehow the Legislative Yuan (LY) sent the wrong message back up.

Then there is the strange message that Ma keeps sending down that everything in his administration is transparent. Transparent like ECFA where Ma's man Chiang Pin-kung of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) refused to address the LY on it. Premier Wu Den-yih refused to debate, explain, or say anything about it. He passed the buck to the Ministry of Economics that also said nothing. And finally after all the negotiations, brouhaha and signatures, no one is sure what is in it and what are the benefits and costs to the nation. Never has anything so transparent been so opaque. Not to worry, Ma has sent another message that government agencies must explain it all to the people.

What about national sovereignty? Ma has continually sent down the message that he will defend the nation's sovereignty to the end. Nevertheless he pushes the nation into economic dependency on the People's Republic of China (PRC), and prevents the nation's flag from being flown lest it be seen by and offend China's Chen Yunlin when he visits. Further the people watched Ma acquiesce to be called Mr. Ma by the same Chen. Maybe Ma needs to lower messages in a basket to China.

Care for the people? Ma sent down a message that his administration is on top of things, always alert, and cares for the nation. Somehow the villages that were swept away with Typhoon Morakot didn't get that message on time either.

The transparency message has consistently come down on other issues like police brutality, the erosion of justice etc. etc. And from 2005 on, Ma as Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), then as President, and again as Chairman of the KMT has repeatedly sent the message that the party will be transparent on how it "acquired" (read stole) the national assets and how it will give them back. It is 2010 now isn't it? Can anyone cut through that transparency?

Issue after issue, time after time, Ma keeps sending down messages in a basket. Don't worry; he is fixing ties with the USA and Japan. Yes, justice will be dispensed equally to members of all parties. Ignore the fact that Diane Lee still walks the streets enjoying her US$ 3 million dollars and Changhua's hospital ridden and convicted Pai Hung-shen was able to just walk away from his police guard. As for the people, referendums are the people's right to express their views, but Ma doesn't want to hear their voice just yet. And so Ma sits in his heavens sending down the message that all is right with the world and with Taiwan. The only problem is that the people are not reading his messages, that's all. They must think it is still a democracy.