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Taiwan’s future could be decided on the streets: The Economist
President Ma is a "lame duck"
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-03 05:11 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s future could be decided on the streets, British magazine The Economist reported Saturday, describing President Ma Ying-jeou as a lame duck.

The international publication was referring to the government’s turnaround on the fourth nuclear plant after massive protests accompanying the nine-day hunger strike by former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung.

The veteran activist was willing to fast to death to persuade the government to abandon its support for the power plant nearing completion in Gongliao, New Taipei City.

“Not wanting to have a martyr on its hands, the government caved in,” The Economist reported. “The country’s nuclear policy lies in tatters.”

The article described how already present concerns about the safety of the fourth nuclear plant rose sharply after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. As Lin conducted his fast, Ma met with DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang to discuss the nuclear issue, but protests continued outside, The Economist wrote.

An adviser told Ma that every argument he had used was 100 percent right, but the trouble was that nobody was listening, according to the magazine, which added that the adviser urged the president “to back down rather than risk the consequences of Mr. Lin’s death for the party’s standing and for peace on the streets.”

The Economist described the government’s decision to seal one reactor after a safety inspection and to stop work on the other while promising a referendum before construction could resume as “an astonishing turnaround.”

The magazine also highlights problems for the DPP, which according to some critics was marginalized by the protesters, especially by the student movement which occupied the Legislative Yuan earlier to protest against the trade-in-services pact with China.

Some DPP leaders want the party to grow closer to the new social movements, but The Economist also quotes former party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen as saying that “you can’t run a country on the basis of social movements. You have to go back to politics.”

“The street protests reflect widespread disillusion with the weakness of Taiwan’s political institutions, yet they have undermined them still further,” according to the British magazine.

The report seemed to place little hope in the time remaining for the president until the end of his final term in May 2016.

Ma “is a lame duck with two years to run. More and more, Taiwan’s future could be decided on the streets,” The Economist concluded. The magazine already caused a stir in 2012 by describing the president as “a bumbler.”

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