Today is Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s last day in office. Much to everyone’s surprise, he appears to going out a viral video star.
Yesterday morning, Ma posted a playful farewell video on his Facebook account. That video has gained an incredible 6 million views, 412,000 likes, 76,000 shares and 42,000 comments.
Apparently, the outgoing Taiwanese president was saving up all his charisma for this single, self-deprecating masterpiece. The 3 minute 46 second long clip features Ma sharing some critical comments that netizens have left on his Facebook page over the years.
In the video, Ma mocks his dreaded “death grip” which has caused misfortune to many who have been brave enough to shake his hand.
“I had no idea my hands were so powerful. I had better take good care of them,” Ma deadpans while applying moisturizer.
But the laughs don’t stop there, Ma also pokes fun at his nickname “deer antlers,” which comes from a flub he made where he appeared to suggest that the deer antlers used in traditional Chinese medicine were really just hair from the animal’s ears.
“I admit that I was wrong. I am willing to face my punishment,” Ma says while donning a pair of cartoon antlers. He then copies out their meaning three times — in some gorgeous calligraphy.
At the end of the video, Ma gets serious to deliver a heartfelt message to all his followers:
“Thank you, netizens, for the support you have given us,” he says. “My eight-year term as president is soon coming to an end. Facing many challenges ahead, I will continue to care about Taiwan, care about our land and care about everyone. Let us continue to work together for the better future of Taiwan in years to come.”
The vast majority of the more than 42,000 comments underneath the video thanked Ma for his service to Taiwan.
“I’ve liked you, complained about you and even cursed you. But in the end, I still have to thank you,” said one commenter.
Meanwhile, the video is also being discussed inside the Great Firewall, on Weibo, where netizens are also praising Ma for his years in his office, his good humor, self-deprecation, love for China and penmanship skills.
It must be nice for Ma to hear some positive things about himself. He’s had a rough few years. Currently, his approval ratings are hovering around 20%, way up from 9.2% in 2013. His party, the Kuomintang (KMT), suffered a historic beating at the polls in January, with incoming president Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) set to take power tomorrow.
Throughout his tenure, Ma has brought Taiwan closer to the mainland than ever before, increasing the number of tourists, business deals and diplomatic talks occurring across the strait to a level not thought possible a decade ago (with help from former Taiwanese hero Wen Jiabao). However, this fact hasn’t exactly made him popular with the locals as more and more young people hold unfavorable views of Beijing and are speaking out for Taiwanese independence.
The culmination of Ma’s eight years in office came last November in a sudden meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping that included a historic 80-second handshake:
Earlier this year, Chinese netizens scoffed when they found out that Ma’s personal wealth included only $2.3 million in cash, saying: “For a provincial leader this is such a loss of face, he’d be better off as our village head!” The Straits Times reports that after stepping down tomorrow, the frugal Ma plans to move back to his modest Taipei flat.
He will hand over the keys of the presidential residence in central Taipei to the new Taiwanese leader, Tsai Ing-wen, who takes office at an tumultuous time, highlighted by the recent deportation of dozens of Taiwanese from Kenya straight to the mainland to stand trial for telecommunications fraud.
Many believe that the move was made to remind Tsai about the “1992 Consensus,” which says that there is only one China, but each side can have their own vastly different interpretation of what exactly that means. Beijing has warned that continued cross-strait talks will only be possible if her new government agrees to the “1992 Consensus.” Tsai has so far been vague about the issue, and Beijing seems to be reminding her that time is quickly running out.
CCTV News was careful to report that earlier this week Ma stressed the importance of abiding by the “1992 Consensus.”
Who knows where life will take Ma after Friday, maybe he’ll finally have time to do some traveling.