While the president has the power to nominate government personnel and takes the lead in policy decision making and resource allocation, the quality of the leader’s performance, on a grand scale, decide his place in history, or on a smaller scale, simply decide the success or failure of the policy in question.
Looking back on the performance of the Ma administration over the past four years, we have to ask why is it that popular support for the government has fallen so drastically. Why has the conflict between the KMT and opposition parties not been reduced? Why are different parts of the administrative team working separately?
In the rare and one-time-only event of our nation’s centennial anniversary, what has our government done that is historically significant? This is a question that I have asked many people, and they only remember one thing — that the Dreamers (夢想家) musical cost more than NT$215 million (US$7.15 million) for just two performances.
All of this only goes to show that Ma’s style, mindset and ability all suffer from great problems; being a nice person and having integrity does not lead to outstanding achievements.
As a national leader, one should not be doing the rounds all day as if one is still a local people’s representative, nor should one be holding a camera and wasting time on useless things.
What a leader should do is to give himself time to think and to have a cool and level head to focus on the more important work, or he may very well end up selling his birthright for a mess of pottage.
The most important job of a leader is to forge a highly efficient and capable administrative team. Regrettably, the current administration often bypasses the entire Cabinet and instructs Cabinet members individually.
This not only severely damages organizational function; it also hurts team spirit. Aside from this, the leader should have some sense of responsibility instead of trying to shrug off the blame when a problem arises.
When an official working for you is in a tough spot and does not receive tangible support from his superiors, he should at least have some form of non-verbal support or he would become conservative.
Otherwise government officials develop a passive attitude whereby they only wish to avoid making mistakes, but do not seek to do anything to distinguish themselves.
Further, a leader should be able to listen to the voice of the people, and aside from having a respectful attitude toward the people the leader should also have empathy for them.
According to the Constitution, the president is not only the head of state, but also the commander-in-chief. After the president is sworn into office, he should also assume the duties that come with this second position.
Looking back to Jan. 13, 1988, when former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) assumed the presidency after former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) passed away while in office, Lee immediately visited Kinmen.
At the time, I was a division commander stationed at Guningtou (古寧頭) and I received an order to prepare a live-fire exercise including infantry, artillery and armored forces within two days.
It was quite a shock to see that Lee stayed the night in Kinmen after watching the exercise and ate at the same table as the division commanders, and during dinner he said to commanding officer Huang Hsing-chiang (黃幸強) “I think your officers can really fight.”