20131102 EDITORIAL: It is hard to listen with closed ears
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EDITORIAL: It is hard to listen with closed ears

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told a prayer breakfast meeting yesterday in New Taipei City (新北市) that he has heard the voice of the people and that there were many things the government needed to work on. Unfortunately, however, it looks as though the nation’s prayers will not be answered as a result of that breakfast meeting, because Ma’s remarks showed he still suffers from the hearing impairment that has plagued him for years — selective listening.

He only hears the sycophantic voices of those closest to him, not those further away who disagree with his policies, no matter how loud they shout.

The president did promise to redouble the government’s efforts to improve the economy, create more investments and exports and to ensure the poor get more. However, he said nothing about reining in his drive to bind the nation’s economy with that of China or addressing concerns raised by the closed-door negotiations with Beijing that have led to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) or the services trade agreement.

How could he claim yesterday that he has heard the voice of the people when he obviously did not hear about the results of two polls, one conducted by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research (TISR), the other by cable news channel TVBS, which were released on Thursday?

The TISR poll found that 68.3 percent of respondents are very wary about the prospect of a cross-strait peace agreement and do not want negotiations for such a pact to begin before a national referendum is held to sanction such talks. Just about the same number (67.9 percent) said they were opposed to the idea that if a cross-strait peace pact were signed, unification with China should be recognized as a national goal.

The TVBS survey found that 71 percent of respondents support Taiwan’s independence from China if given the option of either backing independence or supporting unification. The poll also found that 64 percent supported maintaining the “status quo.”

Even Mainland Affairs Council spokeswoman Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅) said the TVBS results show that the government should move forward on its policy toward China based on mainstream public opinion.

The message that a majority of Taiwanese are not rushing as fast as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to embrace the autocratic monolith on the other side of the Taiwan Strait came through loud and clear on Thursday — as it has been in poll after poll in recent years — and yet it is obvious that no one in Ma’s inner circle in the KMT, the Presidential Office or Ma himself, is paying the slightest attention.

Ma is continuing to urge quick passage of the service trade pact by the legislature — under the guise that it will help the economy — despite the criticism and protests from all levels of society against it. The complaints raised about the way that the pact was reached are exactly the same as those heard after the ECFA was inked, yet the administration did not change its course.

He continues to send government and KMT officials to cozy up to their Chinese counterparts — dispatching Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) to the recent APEC forum in Bali and former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) to a forum with the Chinese Communist Party in Nanning, China, last weekend — where the dominant voice of such meetings comes from Beijing. Ma’s determination to open Taiwan up to China has been the hallmark of his presidency.

Ma can say he is listening to the public, but his actions belie his words. So it should come as no surprise then that so many Taiwanese no longer give any credence to what they hear from him.

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