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
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
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.