Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is said to be a technocrat – he has never been into “inspiring” speeches. But even if he had been: with popularity (or support) rates at less than ten percent (according to the BBC’s Mandarin website), all he can do is to focus on what pains the public most: the economy, and sagging earned incomes.
Ma’s Double-Ten speech wants to suggest that he knows what needs to be done:
Taiwan should become a supplier of key components and precision equipment, as well as a developer of innovative services. In addition to fostering new growth-driver industries, we must also support the efforts of our businesses to develop critical technologies, produce key components, and carry out research and development efforts aimed at creating precision equipment with intelligent functions and unique competitive advantages. This multi-track approach will ensure that our industrial firms will not be easily replaced by, nor be dependent upon, those of other nations. Aside from manufacturing, we must also keep track of market trends and develop innovative business models, so that the service sector will enjoy a greater share in our industry’s output value and exports. In this way, we can transform our service industry into another engine that can drive economic growth and help to raise pay levels. These efforts to adjust our industrial structure that I have just now discussed are underway already.
“Already” could be used to make fun of a president who, after all, took office almost four years and a half ago. However, “already” should probably be blamed on poor translation into English – in Chinese, “already” or 已經 stands for some kind of present perfect, rather than for a triumphantly “early” accomplishment, or – at least – insight.
Ma’s second term hasn’t seen a honeymoon. The public appeared to be nervous even before May this year, with support and satisfaction rates at between 15 and 22 percent respectively. Ma addressed some of the criticism of this year in today’s speech, such as the issue of communication.
But above all, Nanfang Shuo, a political commentator, suggested earlier this year, much of the public’s unease stemmed from an awareness that Ma was now free from pressure as he faced no further elections. Reforms and decisions could therefore be taken arbitrarily.
Apparently, those fears haven’t gone away.
» One Question, Mr President, Economist, Sep 1, 2012