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September 24, 2017

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Drop a rock on your own feet

If it was because of prudence, it's good, and the public would understand. But naming Lai to head the uber-important MAC, upon which closer cross-strait ties and greater economic growth depend, was such a shock bombshell for his supporters who deserve something better. The outburst of anger was only natural. Only the most insensitive and callous would take it as business as usual.

Given that Ma's "broader-consensus" argument is convincing and even paramount for Taiwan's ethnic reconciliation, one may question why the choice in this move is to appoint Lai, a diehard separatist, to head cross-strait relations. The "green camp" certainly has a number of candidates better qualified for the job. You can name a dozen off- hand: former DPP lawmakers Hung Chi-chang and Shen Fu-hsiung, for example. Lai, the TSU's legislator at large, carries the political baggage of former president Lee Teng-hui, the party's spiritual leader and progenitor of "go slow, be patient" policy that restricts closer economic ties with the mainland.

So fierce was the storm that Lai showed up, 72 hours after her disappearance, at a press conference Wednesday, assuring skeptics that she supports the "1992 consensus" on the definition of "one China," and she supports the policies of Ma and vice president-elect Vincent Siew. She said her stand "transcends" the ideologies of either unification or independence. To show her deference to P.K. Chiang, chairman-designate of the semi-official Strait Exchange Foundation, she paid him a visit to discuss the division of labor between the MAC and SEF, which acts as a proxy to deal with its mainland counterpart-the quasi official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

As Ma is adamant on the controversial appointment, the political storm may not die down any time soon. But who is to blame? Ma said in his victory speech March 22 that he will "start out from gratefulness, begin working from humbleness" (). His supporters did not feel his gratitude nor see his humility. What they are seeing is hubris and chutzpah.

The storm will be over, sooner or later. And, Ma could be vindicated. But vindication will not come before people can see, within a couple of months, the realization of regular direct flights on weekends, the arrival of mainland tourists in droves, and the export of Taiwan fruits to the mainland.

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