Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ma Yingjiu (馬英九) - Taiwan's new Prez!

Elections in Taiwan usually leave me a little conflicted. I'm no fan of the KMT, or even of the Republic of China - I identify with Taiwan, not the R.O.C. However, I think the party that usually claims to represent Taiwan (as opposed to the R.O.C.) has been a huge disappointment over the last eight years, and throughout the campaign. And the opposition candidate, Ma Yingjiu (Yes, I know he spells it Ying-jeou, but I prefer the standardized romanization of the Hanyu Pinyin system, so sue me.)is a candidate that has a lot of potential to do good. He promotes internationalization, not localization. He wants to get flights going between China and Taiwan - daily! He should be able to get a much -needed arms bill passed in the legislature, and most importantly, he'll have the support of a very blue (blue means KMT) legislature to implement his agenda. If Frank Xie had won, he would have been a lame-duck president, and probably even recalled. That would not have been good for the country.

The KMT has enough bad apples inside to make me nervous, though. They still have strong ties to organized crime, and they are already showing an arrogance of power. And while most KMT supporters pay lip service to the notion of a single China, some deluded old geezers in the KMT actually want that day to come!

I have a lot of faith in the people of Taiwan to not put up with anything to outrageous. The KMT's decisive victory aside, I believe that "Taiwan consciousness" is as strong as ever. It's now time for the opposition DPP to lick its wounds, and come back stronger and smarter. To be honest, they deserved this defeat. Their administration had become an embarrassment - corruption, insider trading scandals, a totally incompetent Ministry of Education, and a Government Information Office that was so hopeless, it was almost funny.


Mark said...

I feel the same way, for the most part.

Prince Roy said...

it was good to see you guys! We definitely need to hit that little Sichuan place in Yonghe. You were saying weekends worked best for you guys, right?

maoman said...

Yep, weekends are best. You tell us what Sunday works for you, and we'll be there! Maybe the Sunday after Qimgming Jie?

cfimages said...

Probably the first time in forumosa history you and I have managed to be at the same place at the same time and I still didn't get to meet you.

Anonymous said...

A have major problems with you pitting localization against internationalization. If there is anything that globalization does, it is put extreme pressure on places to differentiate themselves--for places that are successful, they are handsomely rewarded because they are number 1 in the world in whatever it is that they are, but for others that fail, they are ruthlessly discarded in the dodo bird bin of globalized capitalism.

Everyone tries to say the right things in order to get power and then start doing what they "really" want to do. It's pretty clear that no matter what Ma says (and if you listen carefully, sometimes he does say it) he ideologically wants to Sinify Taiwan. If Ma succeeds and when Taiwan is seen as just "the other China" as the New York Times puts it, then why would anyone come to Taiwan when the real deal is China, not Taiwan? Very few people believe the old KMT propaganda line that Taiwan is the "real" China politically or culturally and with the rise of a powerful China, fewer and fewer buy that line as China grows bigger.

What really disgusted me about this whole election process is the complete lack of discussion of real issues. The real issues economically are globalization and rising prices in raw materials (oil, grains, etc.), which is really just a subset of globalization.

The US is economically these past 8 years has been quite similar to Taiwan. Like Taiwan, the US has had stagnant wage growth. The US lost jobs to India, Taiwan, and S. Korea, just as Taiwan lost jobs to China. Both had nice macro economic numbers (Taiwan 5.7% last year). Both are highly dependent on oil and are facing globally high oil prices.

I don't know if you follow Taiwan news, but currently KMT legislators are screaming for Taiwan to raise gas prices at the state-controlled CPC. Well, if you remember, they screamed for the government to freeze gas prices before the election, and the DPP complied.

This is the problem with the election. A lot of Taiwanese thought there was a lot of sense in the argument that wages haven't been rising and that inflation was high and this was all the DPP's fault. Well, yes, I agree that oil should be determined by market prices and even taxed, but the KMT has setup Taiwanese expectations to very irrationally expect the government to "just take care of it". Is public opinion really going to just accept the KMT changing on an issue so fast?

Frank Hsieh started some of the dialogue on taking care of the losers in a globalizing world when he talked about giving amnesty for poor that owed national health insurance fees (you can't see a doctor if you owe), and when he talked about those that would be harmed by opening completely to China. At the same time, he was also very supportive of business friendly tax reform (basically cut taxes). This is really the direction Taiwan should be moving in order to remain globally competitive without rioting, and I'm really saddened that this dialogue really wasn't elaborated on.

Ma stated he was not going to increase or cut taxes. That leaves very little room for tax reform, which is a really big deal for getting international talent to invest and work in Taiwan and is exactly the path Singapore and Hong Kong took.

I'm also disappointed about the whole lack of discussion on energy policy. Where the hell was the debate on energy policy? Nuclear is one of the only short-term viable alternatives in the face of high oil and natural gas prices, but highly controversial in Taiwan. Not a word... even China is ahead of Taiwan in this regard...

Unknown said...

To be honest, they deserved this defeat. Their administration had become an embarrassment - corruption, insider trading scandals, a totally incompetent Ministry of Education, and a Government Information Office that was so hopeless, it was almost funny.

I agree with you that if Hsieh had been elected, he would probably be impeached just because the legislature (KMT majority) indict him for something stupid. However, voting for Ma (stinky trolley car man) just because Chen (taipei 101 man) sucked is no way to decide who you're voting for.

You mention corruption in the DPP. Let's not forget the rampant corruption in KMT history. The reason that Truman was going to let the Communists take over Taiwan was because of the KMT's corruption. (Thank God for the Korean War and the 7th Fleet!) Just last summer, Ma was indicted with corruption. He used government funds to buy treats for his dog! Get real!

You also mention the KMT's progressive "internationalization." Does this include changing all stamps to say "Republic of China" instead of "Taiwan"? Changing every name back to "China" instead of "Taiwan" just to confuse westerners into thinking that Taiwan owns China? I believe that it is necessary for the Taiwanese to know more about their own culture, to promote their own culture. Sure, they celebrate Lunar New Year and eat mooncakes like their fellow 'brothers' in China, but we've had enough of this. Raising awareness of Taiwanese culture, for example providing Minnanyu classes, which the Ministry of Education supported, is clearly expostulated against in pro-KMT newspapers.

In addition, the KMT is the party that continually blocked bills to purchase arms from the US, to revise the anachronistic constitution (which still claims all of China including Tibet and Mongolia), etc. However, the KMT sure can do a good job of blaming everything on Chen. Ma even baselessly claimed that there had been no GDP growth in the past 8 years, which clearly manifests his economic illiteracy. Ironically, he believes he's the ideal leader for Taiwan capable of bringing Taiwan's economy out of an imagined pothole.

Thanks for reading this.