Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Wang spurned Ma to avoid defeat

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

Last Thursday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) refused to serve as the running mate of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

However, Wang's rejection of a Ma-Wang ticket was just what Ma wanted.

In other words, since Ma did not invite Wang to team up with him at the outset, he must not have respected Wang that much.

Indeed, if Ma truly respected Wang, Ma's camp would not have accused Wang of corruption.

Not long ago, Ma's support ratings were still sky high and his choice of running mate was not supposed to be an issue.

The problem was that Wang became somebody that Ma, after he was indicted for corruption, could no longer afford to ignore .

The more interesting issue is why Wang rejected being Ma's running mate.

As Wang cannot become the most powerful person within the KMT -- that honor belongs to Ma, regardless of whether he is the party's chairman or not -- Wang's position as legislative speaker is as high as he can go.

Since he failed to become party chairman or a presidential candidate, serving as the vice presidential candidate would seem to be the best choice for Wang to further his political career.

From this point of view, Wang should have been begging Ma and the KMT to let him run as vice president.

So why was it the other way around?

Perhaps Wang was invited simply because he is particularly adept at political maneuvering, or because he can attract moderate voters, or because he is influential in the legislature, or because he is considered part of the pro-localization faction inside the KMT.

But if all these things are true, why did Ma attack him so viciously in the KMT chairmanship election?

Wang, who has spent a lifetime in politics, undoubtedly understood the situation.

He knew that all he had to do was say "yes" and the vice presidential candidacy would have been his.

Although he would have been serving under Ma, this would have been a boost to his political career.

In a meeting with Ma, Wang brought up the party's various difficulties, including its position on localization, its controversial stolen assets, corruption and position on Taiwanese sovereignty.

But all of these are the legacy of the KMT's past as a party-state and not new issues.

The fact is that Wang decided not to team up with Ma regardless of the negative impact on his career or the party.

Wang insisted on not teaming up with Ma because he knows that Ma only has a slim chance of winning the presidential election.

Pan-blue camp media reported during Wang's visit to former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰)before last Thursday's Ma-Wang meeting that Lien had said that as Ma's chances in next year's presidential election where slim, Wang should accept the invitation to run as the KMT's vice presidential candidate.

Wang replied: "Since you know that winning will be difficult, why have you asked me to team up with him?"

Today, Ma's front-runner status is weakening and Wang, rather than going down with Ma's ship, is stepping back to watch.

Although Wang rejected a vice presidential bid, he stressed that his cooperation with Ma would continue unchanged.

However, such a pledge has a double meaning. First, it indicates that Wang will not run for the presidency as an independent candidate.

Although he would stand little chance of winning as an independent, he could affect the outcome of the election.

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