The China Post news staff
We know we should be saying “Happy Birthday” to the nation and stop badmouthing the government as we mark the 102nd anniversary of the birth of the republic today. But what’s there to be happy about? The nation will have all the usual formalities to celebrate the anniversary: a flag-raising gathering at dawn, an official ceremony presided over President Ma Ying-jeou and a parade — all taking place in front of the Presidential Office. But except for these, this nation of ours seems to have more apprehensions than celebrations. The Double Tenth ceremony this year probably will see some of the most awkward and embarrassing moments in the republic’s history. President Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng will be sitting technically side by side (with first lady Christine Chou in-between) but not seeing eye to eye, as their open rift continues. Of course, Ma’s embarrassment may not compare to what his predecessor Chen Shui-bian had to endure while presiding over the 2006 National Day ceremony. At the time, tens of thousands of protesters marched in the vicinity of the Presidential Office demanding that he resign over corruption. He did not resign, but ended up in prison eventually. Will Ma suffer the fate of his predecessor? Ma has recently been interviewed by prosecutors over a wiretapping scandal involving Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming. Some lawyers suggest that there is a possibility of prosecution against Ma when he completes his presidential term if he is found to be an accomplice. The investigation into the wiretapping scandal has yet to conclude, but the National Day ceremony is set to be marred by protesters rallying in the vicinity demanding he resign over the alleged wiretapping, among other reasons.
The president is expected to ignore all the protests and embarrassments as he talks about his plans for the country. But who is going to believe a president with a popularity rating as low as less than 10 percent according to some polls. We may continue to question his competence, and wonder where he is taking us, or whether he can really take us to where he promises. We have a lame duck president who does not have the wisdom to solve the political stalemate, and who has failed to deliver on his promises of a better economy. While the political struggle is deteriorating into absurdity, Taiwan’s economy remains stagnant. The IMF has just lowered Taiwan’s GDP growth to 2.2 percent for 2013. Latest export figures show a decline for September. A new law in mainland China imposing tighter control on its tourism industry has sharply reduced the number of tourists arriving from the other side of the strait, on which Taiwan’s economy now heavily relies. Electricity prices have just gone up despite public grievances, with the nation bracing for a wave of consumer price increases. Salary levels have backpedaled to those of 16 years ago, with no improvements in sight. It is not just the short-term economic slowdown that the nation is worried about. Lying ahead is a bleak and uncertain future, and the government has yet to show the nation a convincing direction. Let’s pray for the future of the nation. But apart from praying, we need all politicians to stop bickering and really concentrate on getting their jobs done. Premier Jiang Yi-huah has been blocked from presenting his report to the Legislature for weeks because of a boycott by the opposition camp. The boycott may not lead to that kind of government shutdown currently hitting the United States, but we actually have had a shutdown of some kind for years hampering government operations because of political struggles. Will the Republic of China really have a happy birthday next year? We’ll see.