Another Ma Ying-jeou Failure Adds to His Legacy

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Saturday July 21, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

There are some who may wonder why many people in Taiwan refer to its current president, Ma Ying-jeou as Ma Ying-joke, or Ma the Incompetent, but the recent revelations on the Maokong Gondola seem bent on cementing that legacy for Ma.

When Ma was Mayor of Taipei, in addition to the failed revitalization of the Nanking West Road Circle, Ma's boy scouts proposed construction of the Maokong Gondola. It cost the city NT$1.3 billion to build. Ma said it would be his greatest achievement as mayor.

The gondola opened for service in July 2007; skip the fact that it had an embarrassing stall with Ma present on opening day; that did however prove to be an omen of things to come. It ran smoothly for a while until the winter rains came. Though initially it was popular, the poor foundations and poor construction soon forced it to be shut down for 18 months in 2008. From then on things got worse. Poorly designed cabins were added to the list of problems.

Thus in 2010, as novelty wore off, the Maokong Gondola posted a NT$98 million annual loss; and then in 2011, it posted another NT$83 million dollar loss. And 2012? It looks like the losses will go over NT$100 million. All this comes to light as the country remains involved in a continued economic downturn under Ma and the corruption scandal of Ma appointee Lin Yi-shih unravels. So how does Ma get his nick-names? Just look around.