Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ma Administration Typhoon Casualties

Bloomberg, usually a KMT cheerleader, is one of the many media organizations documenting the free fall in approval for the Ma Administration over the way Ma and his Administration have appeared to bungle the typhoon relief.
Support for Ma dropped to 29 percent, from 66 percent when he took office in May last year and 52 percent at his first anniversary, according to a survey conducted by the United Daily News published today. About 46 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t have confidence in his administration’s relief and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the storm.

......

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s approval rating also fell to a record low of 20 percent according to the survey, the Taipei- based, Chinese-language newspaper said. The newspaper said it interviewed 919 adults on Aug. 18 for the poll, which has a margin of error of 3.29 percentage points.
Note that Bloomberg draws its data from UDN, the pro-KMT paper (without mentioning that it is the former KMT party paper and is rabidly pro-KMT). When UDN says a KMT administration is not popular -- it ain't popular.

UPI talks about why:

President Ma Ying-jeou and his key Cabinet members also infuriated the public with their responses to the disaster. Ma has been heavily criticized for failing to fulfill his role as commander-in-chief of Taiwan’s armed forces. Without instructions from Ma, the army sent only 740 soldiers on rescue missions to the stricken areas on the first day, Aug. 8. [MT: note that Defense Minister resigned to take fall.]

Ma was attending a friend’s wedding on Aug. 7 while Morakot was approaching. He waited until Monday – three days after the typhoon hit – to call a special national security meeting to mobilize troops and organize rescue and relief efforts in the badly stricken southern counties of Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Taitung and Chiayi.

Big news yesterday is the sacrifice of Andrew Hsia, the Deputy Foreign Minister, who had to step down over the "misunderstanding" involving the telegram that informed everyone that Taiwan was rejecting foreign aid (also out this morning are the Defense Chief and the Sec-General of the Cabinet).

The surface story is simple: Foreign Minister Francisco Ou was out of the country, and so Hsia, who refuses to confirm he saw the memo before it went out, was in charge. Hence he must take the fall. The story circulating among knowledgeable individuals, however, is that the decision to refuse aid was made at the highest levels, either by Ma himself or by NSC chief Su Chi, one of the most powerful individuals in the government and Hsia is just a fall guy for what ultimately proved to be one of the Administration's dumbest decisions.

What motivated that decision? Also circulating is an unsigned letter dated August 10, Monday after the storm, from the Taiwan Affairs Office of China, offering aid. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the aid from other countries was put off while the government decided what to do about Beijing. However, the letter could well be an anti-Ma fraud.

The Ma press conference (Youtube) also took place yesterday. Good questions from our foreign press corps. I think it is wonderful that this typhoon has finally permitted reporters to report on criticism of Ma, something that was sorely lacking during the campaign -- when powerful financial interests overseas were strongly backing a Ma victory.

There's a back story here too. A couple of days before the press conference the GIO informed the foreign correspondents that they would have to submit their questions in writing in advance. Probably a good idea, considering that Ma unscripted has been a disaster for the KMT. But the foreign correspondents responded, essentially, that it wasn't their job to help the Ma Administration perform damage control. The GIO then hastened to retract this position which -- as my readers will now be predicting -- was just a "misunderstanding." The foreign reporters then asked the hard questions -- more power to them.

Such practices are apparently the norm with local media, which is one reason Ma gets such fawning coverage. Readers can imagine what happens to reporters who ask unscripted questions.
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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

And even with this complete screw up by the Ma administration, he's still more popular than CSB for most of his 2nd term.

peter said...

Ma's Apology News Conference
English Version

Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCQ_DafSlAo

Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfrOvVNP4P8

Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaPWwkVYGsk

Part 4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAf1z3BHRKU

Part 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuN9ThnZS48

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... if Ma stepped down, then Vincent Siew would become president? Is that how it works? Tough choice...

peter said...

In case I added the wrong Youtube links, I have rechecked and posted them here.

Ma's Apology News Conference
English Version


Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCQ_DafSlAo

Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfrOvVNP4P8

Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaPWwkVYGsk

Part 4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAf1z3BHRKU

Part 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuN9ThnZS48

Anonymous said...

Your glowing praise for the foreign reporters at yesterday's conference is way off the mark. Max Hirsch from the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club was a disgrace and should have been thrown out. His lame-brain grandstanding and babbling of nonsensical questions has put the future of such events involving non-accredited foreign "journalists" at risk.

Michael Turton said...

And even with this complete screw up by the Ma administration, he's still more popular than CSB for most of his 2nd term.

LOL. But you left out... "and the KMT still sweeps in the elections in December."

Michael

Dixteel said...

What the heck is Microsoft doing?

No wonder their XBox 360 has gone haywire: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6215590.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=newstop&tag=newstop;title;3

Nevets said...

Chen Sui Bian is still the best! One day he will lead the United Nations.

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound maybe a little weird to foreigners that don't know Taiwan, but you can really know how screwed up Ma is and how out of touch he is with Taiwan from one action (or inaction):

Not passing out a single red envelope.

Now, the amount would largely be symbolic, but it would get a little money into the hands of disaster victims right away while they wait for gov bureacracy to process their aid relief applications. But besides, it is expected and the Taiwanese way for the boss to show that he gives a sh__. That's what Ma's special fund as mayor was for (which he got caught pocketing as his "salary"). What was crazy about it from the perspective of all the other local mayors was how Ma possibly could, as the mayor of Taipei City, and as the most visible local politician in all of Taiwan could have money leftover from his special fund. With the number of weddings and funerals attended, everyone else would run out of money and even have to spend out of their salary, but not Ma. Ma his this screwed up sense of morality that makes him thing not handing out small envelopes to DISASTER victims somehow is uprightness (and remember that the funds are legally available, not out of Ma's own pocket).

Taiwan Echo said...

Ma Ying-jeou in the most crucial hours of Morakot

Stefan said...

The Ma administration seems to send the message that they are still focused on PR damage control rather than the relief effort. The result will be that the achieve neither.

adamcathcart said...

Thanks for a fine post. I hope to return to your site for more updates as this story unfolds. Between the Japanese elections, North Korean angst and China's brewing up for the 60th anniversary, this story is still exploding and may ultimately be as important as anything else that happens this year.

http://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/total-fiasco-dalai-lama-to-visit-taiwan/