Tuesday, January 04, 2011

An inconsistent Presidential Office

President Ma’s only consistency is his inconsistency, which makes it very difficult for the electorate to take him at his word

If futures were built on promises, Taiwan under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would be the envy of the international community — prosperous, dignified and safe from harm.

Sadly for Ma, running a country requires more than slogans designed to meet a moment’s requirements — statesmanship calls for vision, action and consistency, all qualities that our promise-prone president, after more than two-and-a-half years in office, has yet to show us he possesses.

While it would be unfair to expect politicians to deliver on every promise they make or to turn every slogan shouted at a podium into reality, they should nevertheless meet minimum standards of consistency. In other words, for promises to be part of a vision, they should be followed through with action, commitment and resources.

Ma’s promise to create an all-volunteer military by 2015 — a laudable, albeit costly idea — is one example of a plan that is unlikely to come to fruition as a result of lack of commitment and funding. The Ma administration’s vow to submit the text of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed with China last year to the WTO also looks like an empty one now that the “early harvest” list has come into force without the global trade body having seen the documents.

What Ma has delivered so far is a long list of promises, the implementation of which has left much to be desired and which do not appear to be part of an overall plan. In fact, his only consistency has been his inconsistency, with slogans thrown cheaply about depending on the nature of the audience being addressed. By dint of repetition, Ma has succeeded in undermining his credibility in the eyes of Taiwanese, who by now could be forgiven for taking a cynical view of his vows.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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