Tue, Nov 21, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's wily shuffle continues

By Jerome Keating

I last wrote about Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in February quoting the words of Abraham Lincoln: "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

At that time, Ma was on his European tour and trying to dance around the direct challenge of whether his first priority was the preservation of Taiwan's democracy or unification with China. Now, as new cases of alleged corruption erupt around him, Ma, the Taipei mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman is still dancing. However, the number of "people" he is able to fool appears to be diminishing.

Over the past few months, Ma had tried to lead the charge against Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), demanding that Chen step down. Originally it was not because of anything Chen had done, but because Chen's son-in-law had been indicted on insider trading.

Then Chen's wife was embroiled in the great Sogo coupon brouhaha. This episode went belly up as far as any concrete evidence was concerned, but that did not stop the KMT. They came back with a new ploy. Chen's wife was indicted on the charge of misuse of and/or forging receipts for the "state affairs fund." Unfortunately however, all this exploded when Ma's office was found guilty of the same practice of misuse of and/or forging receipts for the "mayoral expense fund."

Ma is now shuffling faster and faster; and though he is not going anywhere -- except possibly offstage -- that certainly is not stopping him. Note the wording he has used to explain himself. When Chen was accused of misuse of the receipt procedure it was "corruption;" when Ma is guilty of it, it is only a "blemish."

When Chen's office mishandled the procedures and receipts it was "out and out corruption;" when Ma's office did the same, it was "an administrative defect."

When Chen's wife and accountants were involved, Chen was responsible and should resign. When Ma's wife and accountants were involved, Ma stated he "knew nothing about it."

Yu Wen (余文) is the Taipei City Government staffer who has become the fall guy for Ma. Ma said that there is no evidence that Yu pocketed the money. Of course not, how could Yu pocket the monies involved when they went directly into Ma's account? The issue is not whether Yu profited; it is the falsification of receipts, the same issue that the KMT is trying to hang Chen with.

Cheng An-kuo (鄭安國), the director of the mayor's office who supervised the allowance reimbursements, has resigned and his resignation was accepted by Ma. Cheng has also tried to dodge the bullet and stated that "the situation began before I arrived at the city government."

Ma has continued to add to the doublespeak by saying that he "needed to shoulder administrative, political and moral responsibility for the blemish." Shoulder the responsibility? Ma is willing to shoulder the responsibility as long as all that this means is that he apologize. As for Chen, however, shouldering the responsibility means that Chen should not just apologize, but stewp down.

For those who have been in Taiwan for long enough and witnessed Ma's doublespeak, his shuffle and how his performance has always fallen short of his words, the above is nothing new.

Is the issue over? Not by a long shot. While Yu allegedly substituted receipts of his own to make his job easier; Ma's real receipts are supposed to be there.

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