Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: A slippery `morality'

"Highest moral standard" has become a popular catch-phrase in recent days, heard among politicians from across party lines -- especially so in the wake of the string of corruption scandals allegedly involving President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) senior aides and in-laws.

Political observers talk about it, opposition lawmakers lecture about it and even Chen has preached about it on various occasions, stating that he would engage in introspection and hold himself to the "highest moral standard."

But what exactly is the "highest moral standard"? Whose yardstick should we use to determine what is the "highest moral standard"?

Perhaps recent events, such as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators' incessant criticism of Chen and the first family, and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) words and actions might give us an insight into the KMT's "highest moral standard."

After initially asking her to stay on, Ma bowed to public pressure and accepted KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen's (鄭麗文) resignation earlier this week over a controversy sparked by a report that she had lived in an apartment provided by business tycoon Chou Hsin-yi (周信義), rent-free, for the past two years.

Does the fact that Ma asked Cheng to stay on indicate he believes that Cheng's decision to accept a businessman's patronage was OK?

If Ma finds this acceptable, how can the public be assured that Chou wouldn't turn around and ask for favors should Ma become president and Cheng a member of the Cabinet?

What about the case involving former Taitung County commissioner Wu Chun-li (吳俊立), who was charged with bribery, and then represented in a by-election by his ex-wife Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞), who he had just divorced to skirt the law?

Ma said that Wu and Kuang were not connected in any way. In that case, why has Ma insisted that Chen take responsibility for the alleged actions of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), who is accused of receiving vouchers from the SOGO Department Store, and for his son-in-law Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), who has been charged with insider trading?

Should Wu Shu-jen and Chao be found guilty, they should of course be brought to book. But what is at question here is the difference between the moral standard the opposition uses to attack Chen and officials in the Democratic Progressive Party administration and the standard they hold themselves to.

The term "highest moral standard," after all, is arbitrary. No one is a saint, let alone politicians, who are known for their policy vacillations and broken promises.

While it might be too much to ask the nation's politicians to adhere to the "highest moral standard," at the least, the same moral standard ought to be applied to all politicians when one is pointing a finger at someone in another political camp.

If KMT lawmakers have no problem with Ma's attitude toward the controversies surrounding Cheng and Wu Chun-li, to name only two, how will Ma be able to convince the public that the country will be run better or that officials will be cleaner should he win the presidency in 2008?

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