Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Ma Ying-jeou's dueling personalities

Far from clarifying the matter, the Taipei City Government's admission on Nov. 14 that one of its workers had forged receipts to claim reimbursement from Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) special allowance fund has only created more questions.

Ma, who is being investigated by the Black Gold Investigation Center of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office over allegations he has misappropriated money from the fund, has not given clear answers about his expenditures from the fund.

People are baffled by the contradiction between the Taipei administration's claim to running a "clean government" and its claim that the unspent remainder of the special allowance fund was Ma's personal property.

The public doesn't understand why Ma refuses to publish lists detailing which charity groups he donated money to.

And people want to see a detailed list of which city government personnel received bonuses on Ma's recommendation.

By all means, until Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) is done with his investigation and the courts hand down a verdict, Ma should be considered innocent.

Nevertheless, by any measure, Ma falls well short of adhering to the "highest moral standard" that he constantly lectures others about. Perhaps this is a result of the dual roles Ma performs.

Mayor Ma must have been absent from the meeting Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma held on Jan. 7 in Miaoli with scores of KMT county and city officials looking on.

At the time, Chairman Ma righteously proclaimed that the KMT "must implement the principles of clean governance."

Chairman Ma said he hoped "all party and public servants would ... dare not to be greedy."

At the event, Chairman Ma instructed members of his own party that "when encountering scandals, one must take the initiative to discover the facts of the matter, deal with it in a forthright manner, be cooperative with investigators and explain the circumstances to the public."

Mayor Ma must have also missed the half-page advertisement that Chairman Ma ran in several Chinese-language newspapers on June 18.

In the ad entitled "The answer is within the hearts of all parents," Chairman Ma detailed the reasons why the KMT supported a recall motion again President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) over his usage of the presidential "state affairs fund."

"How are we to teach our children in the future the meaning of `integrity?'" the ad asked.

"How do we give an answer when a child says: `You can lie so long as you don't get caught by the teacher?'" it asked.

"If we don't punish people who are corrupt, that would mean people tolerate corruption and [as a result] governing officials will become more greedy," the ad said.

Pity Mayor Ma, because if he were to heed Chairman Ma's words, he wouldn't have ended up in the hot water he now finds himself in -- hot water that could cost him his chance to run in the 2008 presidential election.

Then again, maybe it's not fair to hold Mayor Ma up to the "standards" set by Chairman Ma. After all, it may be that Chairman Ma is also a hypocrite who doesn't practice what he preaches.

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