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September 22, 2017

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Drop a rock on your own feet

When Frank Hsieh was running for president as the ruling party's nominee, he had some wry remarks about his opponent Ma Ying-jeou: "He is capable of turning a trivial thing into a crisis."

Hsieh, though trounced by Ma in the March 22 election, deserves credit for his clairvoyance. He was not second guessing. Hsieh's prescience was proved by a series of self-made crises that had dogged Ma's campaign. The "green card" crisis, for example, should not have been an issue if handled properly.

Ma's landslide victory, unprecedented in scale in Taiwan's direct presidential elections, should have given him a strong mandate to carry out his campaign promises on better cross-strait relations and faster economic growth.

As if to prove Hsieh's uncanny prophecy, Ma created a crisis this time out of nothing. When his supporters at home and abroad are expecting the dawning of a new era of a cross-strait detente and economic revival, he stunned everybody, including even the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, by awarding Taiwan's top post in charge of cross-strait relations to an avowed separatist.

The appointment of Ms. Lai Shin-yuan, a firebrand legislator of the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union, as chairman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Commission, has stirred up up a hornet's nest since premier-designate Liu Chao-shuian made public the appointment Monday. It touched off a violent storm of protests from all sides. It is a crisis of Ma's own invention.

But the president-elect, who will be sworn in May 20, appears unfazed. He insisted and repeated this week that his pick was correct and wise, and urged his millions of supporters to "take another look from a different angle" to see the beauty of the choice. But people with an average IQ fail to see any beauty from any angle. Ma defended his appointment by arguing that because there were 5.44 million people who did not vote for him, he has to "broaden the base of consensus." How strange is this argument? Is this the basis for betraying the 7.65 million who voted for him?

Ma should bear in mind that there were thousands of overseas Chinese from all four corners of the world who flew back to Taiwan on their own to vote for him, to pin their dreams on him for the return of the spring of hope after eight years of winter of despair. Their hearts are now bleeding, torn asunder by the sudden death of their dreams.

The roads for Ma's triumphant bandwagon should be smooth and open because he will have the total, unchallengeable control of both the executive and legislative branches of the government. But all of a sudden, to everyone's bewilderment, he throws stumbling blocks over the roads, and lifts a rock to drop on his own feet. It guarantees a bumpy start of his administration.

Since after winning the presidency, Ma has been busy visiting leaders of various fields to "ask for advice" and thank them for support. The time could be better spent on more urgent jobs before him — lining up a new, competent team worthy of the trust of the general public. But he dithered, showing that his campaign slogan, "We Are Ready," was misleading. One cannot help wondering what he and the Kuomintang were doing all the eight years waiting for the wings. Did they even have a shadow cabinet? Why does it take so long to fill key government posts?

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