Incoming president Tsai Ing-wen must avoid the temptations and mistakes of the past
Eight years ago today I opened an unsigned editorial about outgoing president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) with the following lines from former Czech president Vaclav Havel: “As you know, the president must carry out his responsibilities to the best of his abilities and conscience, but it must be done with taste and skill, otherwise one might become an object of ridicule, or provoke general hostility.” Those words are no less true today than they were when Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who will be stepping down on May 20, was about to take office in 2008.
Whether Ma succeeded in meeting Havel’s benchmarks is debatable; many would argue that he didn’t, and that this is why his party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), suffered such a setback in the January elections. One unquestionable accomplishment of his, though—and this may very well be an unintended outcome—is that after eight years in office, Ma leaves Taiwan much more unified than it was before, much more so, in fact, than when Chen stepped down. However, this unity should not be taken for granted and could be ephemeral; it must be cultivated lest this unique moment be overshadowed by a return to divisions of old.
My article, published today in The News Lens International, continues here.