Tue, Nov 18, 2003 - Page 8 News List

A man with `a wolf's heart and a dog's lungs'

By Chiu Hei-yuan 瞿海源

In the last presidential election, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) exposed the Chung Hsing Bills Finance case, which caused a dramatic change in the election situation. James Soong (宋楚瑜) saw his support rate fall drastically and finally lost the election by a narrow margin. Prosecutors decided not to indict Soong and the KMT dropped the case, but then the lawyers asked for a re-investigation. Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has recently testified at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

It is difficult to predict how this politically sensitive case, which is very likely to influence another election, will turn out. If the prosecutors indict Soong before next year's presidential election, then Soong, the People First Party (PFP) and the entire pan-blue camp will use the claim of political persecution as a major campaign strategy. An indictment would be deleterious to the blue camp, because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government apparently cannot manipulate the prosecutors to either indict him or not.

The public's judgment is already very clear. According to an opinion poll conducted by TVBS on Oct. 24, 53 percent of the public believes Soong has not clarified the matter. Only 16 percent believes he has, while 31 percent has no opinion. The Chung Hsing case is obviously a major test for Soong. It definitely has an impact on the Lien-Soong ticket, but ultimately it is not the most crucial factor.

There are apparently more important factors behind the continuing slide in support rates for the Lien-Soong ticket. In the final analysis, the problem lies with the political characters of Lien and Soong.

The two have been adapting to their roles of presidential and vice presidential candidate. But their basic political characters have not seen any fundamental change. At best, Lien has merely shifted from a gentle appearance to being relatively more abusive. But Lien started heaping abuse on people in the previous election. Soong's criticism of Lien at the time was right on the mark -- he said Lien's special quality is that he does not take any stances on any matter. Soong also stressed that "a person who has no views of his own cannot be a president." Does Lien have any views or stances now? He doesn't, in Soong's eyes, as one can clearly see in Soong's raw obstructionism during the Legislative Yuan's review of Grand Justice nominees in the previous legislative session.

Soong is very domineering, believing that he can control the country by adopting the traditional style of being close to the people. He almost views himself as a wise emperor. He accumulated massive political resources during his days as KMT secretary-general and provincial governor. Many political figures yield obedience to him.

In a democratic era, such an attitude in itself will be faced with a major predicament. The PFP has found it difficult to break free from the predicament of a one-man party. While calling Soong a man with "a wolf's heart and a dog's lungs" in March 2000, Lien also ridiculed his camp as "a small gang talking about being above parties and factions." Soong's single-minded wish to be a wise emperor in a democratic era has a direct bearing on the PFP's failure to widen its scope.

There is a fundamental contradiction in the cooperation between a man with no views and a man with a wolf's heart and a dog's lungs. Even if they win the presidential election, they will not be able to resolve the problems created by such political characters. Lien and Soong need to change their political characters thoroughly if they are really sincere about taking up the heavy responsibility of leading the country.

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