Tue, May 23, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: DPP corruption hiding Ma's failure

It has been almost 10 months since Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took over as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) with promises to clean up the party and deal with the issue of stolen party assets. But has Ma lived up to his promises?

Compared with the crisis-torn Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), currently the KMT looks as pure as the driven snow. But upon closer inspection, events over the past few months have proved that Ma has merely been paying lip service to his campaign promises.

Ma's major pledge during the battle for the chairmanship was that he would clean up the party. And despite his "clean election" pledge and promises not to endorse candidates with black-gold convictions, the chairman has stumped for a number of questionable candidates.

During December's local election campaign, Ma seemed to steer clear of corrupt Taitung County commissioner candidate Wu Chun-li (吳俊立), who ran as an independent following his expulsion from the KMT. However, after his win it became clear Wu would not be allowed to assume his position, so Ma instead stumped for Wu's ex-wife Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) and helped her win last month's by-election, even though she had no political experience and had divorced Wu solely for the purpose of running in the election. Ma, with tongue firmly in cheek, claimed that the two were not connected in any way.

Now, Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利) has been indicted for involvement in a fraudulent land deal. Hsu was selected by the party and endorsed by Ma with these allegations already out in the open, and despite an additional past indictment. Ma's response? That the KMT's "integrity and efficiency monitoring committee" would look into it. Why didn't the committee look into Hsu's record before his selection?

And in the KMT's Taipei mayoral primary, during which the chairman has supposedly stayed neutral, two candidates dropped out of the race because of alleged favoritism toward Ma's protege and former deputy mayor Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), while Ma's elder sister campaigned for Yeh. Again, Ma proclaimed his innocence.

Turning to party assets, Ma came to power determined to rid the party of the property it gained through illegal ownership transfers during the KMT party-state era, but apart from selling one or two prominent sites for billions of NT dollars and keeping the profits, this issue has not been settled.

Conveniently for Ma, all this and the fact that his reform program has gotten nowhere is being overshadowed by the DPP's own corruption crisis.

Despite promises that it would conduct clean government, it appears the DPP is as full of people eager to fill their pockets as previous KMT regimes.

The DPP leadership could do worse than to force any members with skeletons in their closet to come clean as soon as possible, because it seems that KMT legislators like Chiu Yi (邱毅) and their sources have a comprehensive list of every misdemeanor committed since the DPP came to power.

The trickle-down effect of these scandals is just prolonging the agony and also helps to divert attention from the KMT's own shortcomings.

And as Ma and his half-hearted efforts at party reform have shown, a year is a long time in politics and the public have extremely short memories. If the DPP can make a clean break with all these allegations and start anew, there may be just enough time for it to salvage the 2008 presidential election.

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