Tue, Dec 20, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The end might justify the means

There is increasing speculation over a Cabinet reshuffle following the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) defeat in the Dec. 3 local government elections. The most intriguing part of this process will be the choice to lead the revamped executive. On Sunday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) announced at a press conference that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had invited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to form a new Cabinet, though the Presidential Office and Wang denied this.

Wang said Chen had considered him for the post, but that he had instead recommended that the post be offered to Ma. Wang added that he had not informed Ma of Chen's offer. Meanwhile, the Presidential Office issued a press release rebutting Ma's statement.

With all of this going on, it's hard to believe either side. And whatever the truth of the matter, this situation must be a source of considerable embarrassment for Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

No matter how the DPP overhauls the Cabinet, the public's focus should be clean government.

According to the 2005 Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International, Taiwan ranks 32nd out of 159 countries and regions. The result is about the same as its ranking of 35 last year and 30 the year before. However, the judicial branch of government has, for the first time, been declared to be suffering from corruption. This development is unacceptable.

Chen must examine his conscience and ask himself if he has only been thinking about his place in history and aiming too high by promoting long-term constitutional reform and cross-strait peace, while neglecting matters that are closer to the daily lives of ordinary people, such as law and order, judicial reform, corruption and the economy. He must listen to the public and build the clean and competent government that the public demands.

We have recently heard much in the media of Ma's support for the majority party forming the Cabinet. In this case, he must first rein in the 14 pan-blue county commissioners and city mayors in order to prevent the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from straying toward its traditional comfort zone of systemic corruption.

In the upcoming elections for speakers of county and city councils, Ma should ensure that there is no repetition of the ugly rumors of rampant vote-buying that swirled around the Dec. 12, 2002, Kaohsiung City Council race.

Since Ma is interested in forming a Cabinet and is likely to be the pan-blue camp's candidate for president in 2008, it is possible that the pan-green camp's defeat in local government elections will spur the two camps into a competition promoting cleaner government and administrative excellence. Certainly this would be much more beneficial than the feuding and boycotts that have done so much to hold back the nation's progress and damage its international reputation.

If the two political camps are willing to turn over a new leaf and initiate a period of positive competition in which debate replaces personal attacks -- and in which charisma and competence replace money as a magnet for votes -- a superior political environment would be the outcome.

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