Why There are Protests Against Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou

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Wednesday September 03, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

This August, there have already been two protests against the ineffectual leadership of Ma Ying-jeou as president of Taiwan. Ma's party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will use their press to try and downplay the actual size of the protests, their importance, and their implications.

The fact is that more and more people are realizing how ineffectual Ma has been and how he does not keep his promises. The KMT are trying to stress that 100 days is too quick for a person to do too much, but Ma had promised the moon because he has an overwhelming majority in the Legislative Yuan. But the distrust of Ma's promises goes much deeper and goes back more than 100 days.

Two big promises that Ma made over three years ago in 2005 were that he would divest the KMT of their stolen state assets and that he would move forward the arms purchases for the defense of the country. In three years nothing of substance has been done in either area. Ma kept the money of the few assets he did sell, and arms purchasing after innumerable delays was miniscule. Thus we have a situation where a man was the chairman of his party, his party has always had a majority vote in the Legislative Yuan and the opposing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has fully endorsed and supported both those measures. Yet nothing was done in three years. If a man makes such promises under such circumstances and does nothing in three years, one can conclude that the man is either ineffectual, powerless within his party, or a liar. You can judge for yourself which applies, but one can then understand that discontent with Ma runs deeper than his 100 days.

Ma remains a person who talks out of both sides of his mouth as more and more people are coming to see. During his campaign he stressed over and over again how he would defend Taiwan's sovereignty to the death and how he was a true son of Taiwan; then in his inaugural address he changed and immediately began a placating approach to China saying that sovereignty was not an important issue and that Taiwanese should think on their "Chinese ness" (Zhonghua Minzu) rather than their own full identity.

Of course there was also the matter that he also had promised that he would immediately turn the economy around. His nave plan of opening Taiwan's doors to Chinese tourists failed. China did not respond as he predicted, even if it did it was ill-conceived. He has run out of plans; the economy continues to sink.

Pictures are worth a thousand words; click here and you can see photos from the August 9th protest that was held near the Presidential Palace. For each of the photos to enlarge them from the low resolution one to full size click on the lower part of the picture.

The second set of photos are photos from the protest march on August 30th, the 100 day anniversary of Ma's taking office. Here two parades began from different locations in the city and met at the Presidential Palace. Estimates put the crowd from 150,000 to 300,000. The pan-blue media tried to say it was only 40,000. You can look and judge for yourself at the size of the crowd. Click here for the August 30 March. More 830 pictures are here.