Newspaper article China Post

President Ma's Leadership Crisis

Newspaper article China Post

President Ma's Leadership Crisis

Article excerpt

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All of a sudden, President Ma Ying-jeou's "Golden Decade" has changed color. It has turned dark half way through the promised decade which is bound to go down in history as Taiwan's Lost Decade on the heels of the Lost Generation presided over by his two predecessors. In a month or so, the shining political star known as "Mr. Clean" for his admirable integrity, has become public enemy No. 1, looking like "a rat scurrying across the street," ([...]) as described by a Chinese metaphor.

Last Saturday, 250,000 protesters, all wearing white shirts, staged a silent sit-in in front of the Presidential Office to demand "truth" about the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who the military say died of "heat stroke" in early July while under detention for misconduct. But Hong's family members refused to accept the official allegation, demanding a "third party" investigation to find out the true cause of Hung's death, which they suspected of foul play.

The massive rally in Taipei on the eve of Hung's funeral turned several city blocks into a sea of white shirts. It evoked the images of Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011 and the red-shirt protesters' rally in Taipei in 2006. Such large-scale protests were a shot across the bow to the rulers who had failed their people. Massive protests often result in regime change.

You need look no further than Hosni Mubarak and Chen Shui-bian to see the power of disgruntled people. You may wonder how the death of an army sergeant could have sent 250,000 people to the streets? Trayvon Martin's tragic death and the not-guilty verdict of his killer George Zimmerman didn't trigger a political storm in the United States. President Obama didn't bow and apologize to the Martin's parents, like Ma Ying-jeou did, except saying on television "it could have been me 35 years ago."

These words touched the hearts of the victim's family and millions of Americans. That's leadership, decent and dignified. That's something President Ma Ying-jeou lacks. Our president did tell Hung's father that "the dead shall not have died in vain" in a sentence that channeled Lincoln but sounded hollow. Last week's protesters took the streets to vent their pent-up anger over Ma's lack of leadership over the years, not prompted by a single incident. Starting from the Morakot typhoon disaster in 2009, President Ma has rarely done anything right when confronted with crises, many of which were self-made. We can still remember that during the 2008 presidential election, then ruling party candidate Frank Hsieh "praised" his rival Ma Ying-jeou for his uncanny ability to "create crises" for himself when there was none. Hsieh's observation was both prescient and incisive.

Hung Chung-chiu's death is a case in point. …

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