Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ma and Tsai, let the games begin! (Part II)

TAIPEI, Taiwan--As expected, there was great anticipation over President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration speech, and I believe that it showed off his true colors. He spent the first part criticizing President Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) performance during the past 8 years. That wasn’t all. Before making his speech at the Taipei Arena, he went to the Presidential Office for the transfer of power ceremony. Afterwards, staff members stood in line to shake hands with the outgoing Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). Before they could finish and had a chance to get out the door, Ma and incoming Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) followed right behind them. So you had one pair saying goodbye and another pair saying hello all at the same time. You shouldn’t rain on anyone’s (farewell) parade. What’s with all this talk about Ma being a gentleman?

As I saw images of the Presidential Office on TV, a certain memory came up. Every New Year’s Day, there is a flag-raising ceremony in front of the Office. I went to one during Chen’s first term and had a good view near the front of the crowd. I remember hearing noises (more like shrills), and upon looking over I saw Ma walking along and shaking hands with some of his fans. He was wearing a jogging shirt (the sleeveless kind) and shorts (the really short kind). This was just after the sun had come up, and even in Taiwan there was a chill in the air. He doesn’t live anywhere close to the Office, so this was not his regular jogging path. Needless to say, his showiness has always bothered me.

On the other hand, his wife Chow Mei-ching (周美青) is the complete opposite and makes having to watch the couple somewhat tolerable and even interesting. I respect that she worked 3 jobs to put her husband through Harvard Law School and that she has always taken the bus to get to work. I admire her cool demeanor and no non-sense style. In that way, she reminds me a bit of Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

However, every time I see her on the news as the paparazzi (aka Taiwanese media) shows her going to work, she is always dressed in jeans and some plain-looking shirt. She holds a managerial position in the legal department of a major bank. Her outfits during the inauguration ceremonies prove that she is not incapable of dressing up. I could be wrong, but I just cannot imagine that this is the dress code at any financial institution in Taiwan or that she would put up with the hassle of changing at the office. Why is this working woman dressed in the same attire as when she goes to walk her dog? How is this not special treatment?

Going back to Ma’s inauguration speech, my ears must have perked up every time he said Republic of China. I had thought that he rarely used the term Taiwan, but I was wrong. The paparazzi did an actual count, and the ratio was 50:9 in favor of Taiwan. Still, I’m a person who prefers quality over quantity, and I was rather appalled that he also played on the importance of the ROC, which represents a hegemonic monster to many Taiwanese people.

He said that the ROC would celebrate its 100th anniversary during his term, having been established in China for 38 years before coming over to Taiwan. While he and the other “post-war immigrants” can make October 10, 2011, a really big deal, the majority of Taiwan will probably just sleep in on the day off.

He also mentioned the so-called “1992 Consensus”, which doesn’t even fit the definition of consensus when China’s stance is “one China” period, while the KMT prefers “one China, different interpretations”. The DPP and a few others, such as former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), think of the entire 1992 Consensus notion as an urban legend.

To end his speech, Ma chanted “Long live Taiwan’s democracy!” followed by “Long live the Republic of China!” He really should have ended it after the first phrase, but can you blame him for not trying hard to please everyone?

However, it’s no secret that this is a man who once opposed the direct election of the presidency. In a not-so-recent interview, he had said that electing members of the National Assembly (who eventually vote for a President) was the same as having citizens vote directly, just that the result doesn’t come in for weeks or months.


1 comment:

Daphne said...

I stand corrected: I have since learned that the First Lady did change into more appropriate work apparel at the office--my bad.