Tue, Sep 20, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Ma faces a reactionary challenge

According to major local newspapers yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) legislators may at last bow to public pressure and end their obstructionism today by allowing Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to give his constitutionally mandated report to the legislature. Pan-blue legislators should not continue to let the Taiwanese people down, or delude themselves that they can ignore the public will and their responsibility to debate bills, simply because they have a legislative majority.

Whether today's legislative session will go smoothly will be a test of newly elected KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) ability to manage pan-blue legislators. If hawkish factions in the opposition parties take things too far in trying to exploit a favorable situation, they may create the impression that they do not take Ma seriously. The suggestion of division in the pan-blue ranks would be damaging to Ma's authority, but would certainly delight the pan-green camp.

Apart from this leadership crisis within the opposition, there are a number of worrisome pan-blue camp bills slated to come before the legislature. In the draft of the organic law governing the National Communications Commission, the pan-blues insist that the commission be formed in proportion to parties' legislative seats. With their legislative majority, the pan-blue camp is clearly determined to create a repeat of the unconstitutional 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee.

Such an attitude is deplorable. The pan-blue camp is seeking to control and corrupt what should be a non-partisan organization, which will only compromise the commission's independence and fairness. The 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee turned out to be a complete fiasco, and that should serve as sufficient warning to the pan-blues not to repeat past mistakes. But they have failed to absorb that lesson, and still believe that they can do anything they want as long as they enjoy a legislative majority.

It is also worrying that the KMT's legislative caucus is planning to propose an amendment to the regulations governing the farmers' and fishermen' associations across the nation. The amendment would abolish regulations relating to the tenure of the directors-general of these associations and relax rules regarding association members who are facing criminal charges.

The farmers' and fishermen's associations have long been dominated by the KMT. This has resulted in the granting of illegal loans and other corrupt acts such as vote-buying. When the DPP came to power, it was forced to use large sums of taxpayers' money to buy up around 30 savings and loan departments of the fishermen and farmers' associations in order to reform them.

But with the year-end elections approaching, the KMT is eager to curry favor with farmers and fishermen. Beyond that obvious political motive, on what grounds does the KMT insist on returning to the days of lifetime tenure for association heads? And as for association employees facing criminal charges, the KMT knows that legal proceedings can drag on for years, so why does it insist on tolerating people who have broken the law?

These controversial bills will soon be reviewed by the legislature. In the course of debate, the public will see that the opposition parties are looking after their own interests at the expense of the public's. They want Taiwan to go back to its old corrupt ways, and wish to roll back political and economic gains that were achieved at great cost, and in the face of terrible adversity. Now that Ma is faced with such powerful reactionary forces, we should ask him, who has repeatedly pledged to tackle KMT corruption: Where is your commitment to reform?

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