Thu, Aug 27, 2009 - Page 8 News List

The Ma Ying-jeou myth perishes

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

I am not sure if it was divine justice, but Typhoon Morakot destroyed the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) myth overnight, tearing his mask off so furiously that even children could see his true colors.

Indeed, many do not know how to describe Ma.

“This man,” as CNN called him, could be called a “shameless thief,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson called Napoleon III.

But why is Ma a shameless thief? He is against democracy, and helped blacklist activists such as Professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成). Then he stepped on others to gain entrance to president Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) circle of power. He opposed the lifting of martial law, the abolition of Article 100 of the Criminal Code and direct presidential elections. His anti-democratic philosophy remains unchanged.

Ironically, he easily stole the democracy that Taiwan earned through the sweat and blood of its people, and through this secured the presidency. He has opposed democracy all his life, yet now he enjoys the fruits of democracy paid for with other people’s lives. That sounds like a “shameless thief,” too.

Ma secured the biggest electoral power base since Taiwan democratized. He obtained almost 60 percent of the vote in the presidential election, more than Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in 1996 and much more than Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in 2000 and 2004. He also outshines his predecessors given that his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) holds three-quarters of the legislature. With both the executive and legislative branches under his control, he secured the KMT chairmanship.

His mandate is far more legitimate than that of Chiang and his father, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), who both had supreme power.

Yet, after winning so many votes, Ma is handing Taiwan to China in a manner consistent with the “one China” principle, as if he were happy to be a local official.

While half of Taiwan almost drowned in the floods caused by Typhoon Morakot, the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used the disaster to flirt with each other. Under the pretext of relief, the CCP’s Taiwan Affairs Office sent a document to KMT headquarters soon after the disaster struck, and Ma responded by refusing US and Japanese aid.

At a press conference after CNN’s opinion poll showed a majority of respondents wanted the president to step down, Ma responded to a reporter’s question on the cancelation of the purchase of 15 military helicopters by saying that Taiwan’s enemy was not necessarily the other side of the Taiwan Strait. So, as the flooding devastated Taiwan and ruined the homes of ordinary people, the KMT and CCP were using the situation to promote political interests.

By bestowing power on Ma, the public have given him the power to act recklessly. Fortunately, he has finally shown his true colors. After just 15 months in office, he has displayed incompetence and hypocrisy. It is only the first half of his term, but he is already a lame duck.

As New York Times reporter Andrew Jacobs wrote on Sunday: “But while the post-Morakot posturing makes for great political theater in Taiwan, the outside world is watching to see whether the episode will affect Mr. Ma’s efforts to bring Taiwan closer to China.”

Indeed, as the “Ma era” turns into the “post-Ma era,” can Beijing still place its hopes only on the pro-China president?

On Aug. 19, China donated 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million) to Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅). The political significance of this is that Beijing is taking a new path. It is abandoning Ma and reaching into Taiwanese elections by sponsoring legislators directly.

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