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Taiwan Election: New President, New Business Arena

Taiwan Election: New President, New Business Arena
Date/Time: Mar 30, 2008 / 5.00pm
Venue: The SIIA House, 2 Nassim Road S258370

Dr Arthur Ding, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (NTU) shared his insightful analysis on the recent presidential election in Taiwan.

The election outcome showed Ma Ying-jeou’s definite electoral victory. The Kuomin-Tang (KMT) gained 7.66 million votes which comprised 58. 45% of total effective votes, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) only won 5.44 million votes which did not exceed 41.55 % of total effective votes. Dr Ding pointed out that the DPP’s failure was due to a few reasons. DPP supporters’ absence during the election indicated their presumption that their votes would not make any difference. The results also reflected the public opinion of DPP’s poor economic performance for the past eight years.

The election signified a few notable changes. First, it marked the end of identification-oriented politics that is now replaced by public policy debate and performance as yardstick. Dr Ding expected that political turnover will be normal under this circumstance. Secondly, more and more people who identify themselves as ‘Taiwanese’ are fed up of being forced to make choice between Taiwan and China. Thirdly, the result represented the end of a social cleavage along the line of Taiwanese versus Chinese, which was a pseudo-issue due to DPP’s maximisation and manipulation of this artificial cleavage to garner political support. Fourthly, the election demonstrated the end of internal debate over China along with the line of threat versus opportunity. Ma’s administration will maximise opportunities and minimise possible threats. In doing so, the new president will seek stronger economic ties with China. He seeks to improve Taiwan-China relations and to bring about stability and peace in the Taiwan Straits and Asia-Pacific region.

Ma Ying-jeou’s China-related economic policy follows a number of principles. There will be no restrictions on China bound investments, but restriction on experts of critical technology to China will remain. Taiwan will lift the 40% ceiling on registered capital, and establish mutual taxation agreement and investment protection agreement with China. It also looks to increase tourists visiting Taiwan.

Regarding the new business prospect, Ma Ying-jeou expects to decrease political risk in the Taiwan Straits. Potential business areas to focus on include real estate, domestic consumption in Taiwan, marine shipping and air transportation. Singapore will remain a hub state for Taiwan. It will take time for Taiwan to find a new direction and build up corresponding strategies. Lastly, Dr Ding expects pragmatic changes in the upcoming administration under Ma Ying-jeou.

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