Tue, Dec 27, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Ma, Soong arrive at a disgraceful consensus

By Liu Kuan-teh 劉冠德

In their attempts to secure power and influence within the pan-blue camp, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his People First Party (PFP) counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) held their second behind-closed-doors meeting last week. They reached a consensus on several controversial post-election issues, including the possibility of the pan-blue camp forming a new Cabinet, the arms procurement package and the confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) Control Yuan nominees.

Under the premise of "respect the institution before policy and personnel," Ma's scheme was to set up a "firewall" to prevent Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from accepting an alleged offer of the premiership from Chen. By securing support from Soong, Ma attempted to reinforce his position in any talks with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on a Cabinet reshuffle.

On arms procurement, Ma echoed Soong's stance that the budget was both unreasonable in price and procedure.

Finally, citing the example of the nominations for the National Communications Committee (NCC), the two said the nomination procedure for Control Yuan members should be equally strict and transparent.

The conclusions they have reached are not only politically disgraceful but also constitutionally objectionable.

The preemptive strike on Chen's possible invitation to Wang to head the Cabinet reveals Ma's sense of insecurity, despite his party winning a huge victory in the Dec. 3 elections. Ma's personal rivalry with Wang during the KMT chairmanship election also deepened their mutual distrust.

While Ma is worried that Wang's defection might threaten the KMT's legislative majority, Soong is even more eager to dance to Ma's tune and therefore extend his life in politics. Such cooperation is a classic marriage of convenience.

Though political calculations dominated the Ma-Soong meeting, the elevation of partisan interests over national security has had a detrimental effect on the cross-strait situation.

Soong again stressed the pan-blue's opposition to "cash-for-friends" arms procurement because of the cost, the amount of weapons, the types of weapons and the procedure used. Ma agreed that the government should consider buying other weapons rather than the US arms named in the bill.

Ma and Soong have made two grave mistakes.

First, they failed to offer an explanation for how Taiwan is supposed to cope with China's ballooning military budget and growing arsenal. Ma should also have explained to the public why the weapons plan -- passed by his predecessors when the KMT was in power -- is now politically unacceptable.

Moreover, with China's National People's Congress passing the "Anti-Secession" Law in mid-March and authorizing the People's Liberation Army to use force against Taiwan, how can they justify allowing the nation's self-defense capability to be compromised?

Finally, by citing the nomination procedure for the NCC as a "good model" for the nomination system for Control Yuan committee members, Ma and Soong brazenly infringed upon the president's constitutional powers.

A constitutional amendment will be needed if the pan-blue camp wishes to incorporate the NCC model as the method of selection for Control Yuan members.

The proposal was based largely on political considerations because the pan-blue camp can manipulate the selection of committee members in accordance with their majority in the Legislative Yuan.

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