Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Tough times for Ma and the KMT

What started as probes into the use of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) presidential state affairs fund led to scrutiny into the use of Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) mayoral special allowance and has now turned into a large-scale investigation into almost anyone who is someone on the political stage and who at one time or another has served in an official capacity with the authority to use special funds.

Last week, investigations were launched against several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweights, including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). Lu, who was being probed for her use of special funds during her prior tenure as Taoyuan County Commissioner, told the press that while she welcomed the investigation she would like the prosecutors to investigate other Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweights, including former KMT chairman and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and current Taoyuan County Commissioner Chu Li-lun (朱立倫).

Also last week, KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦龍) filed a lawsuit against Judicial Yuan President Weng Yueh-Sheng (翁岳生) on the alleged misuse of special funds. On the same day, DPP lawmakers filed lawsuits against 26 incumbents and former heads, as well as former premiers and vice presidents, over similar charges.

If the purpose of all these lawsuits and investigations is to highlight that no one is above the law, then the mission has been accomplished. If the intent of all these lawsuits and investigations is to highlight that the system needs fixing, then that too has been successful.

However, if the mission is to convince the voters and the public that the manner in which special funds are used by some politicians is perfectly acceptable, then these people will have to do better. While it may be true that just about "everyone is doing it" and that the law is arguably fairly ambiguous in some critical components, it would be self-deceiving to say that these politicians do not know deep inside that they are treading in "gray areas." These are well-educated and intelligent people. They had a choice: to be just like everyone else or to rise above the fray. As to how some politicians performed on this test, the answer is pretty clear.

Ma's "saint-like" image has just about been destroyed. While his supporters run around the cities telling that everyone else was also doing "it," Ma has been reduced to just another one of those "politicians." The justification offered by Ma's advocates is reminiscent of that famous line uttered by Hong Kong action movie star Jacky Chan (成龍) several years ago when his extra-marital affair was revealed -- "I made a mistake that all men in the world would have made."

Ironically, if Ma is indeed indicted for forgery and corruption, then the KMT will not even be allowed to nominate him to run in the next presidential election. The party has an anti-corruption regulation under which members who are indicated must be suspended from the party. If Ma's membership is suspended, he will of course not be qualified for the nomination. Should that become a reality, it would be as devastating a blow to the party as it would be to Ma, as the entire pan-blue camp has pined its hopes on him for presidential victory in 2008.

Under the circumstances, some KMT members are already talking about amending the KMT regulation so that Ma would be able to run for the party despite his indictment. However, this would only serve to further damage Ma's -- and the KMT's -- image.

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