More than a week has passed since Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Committee member Sean Lien (連勝文) was shot and a bystander killed at an election rally for KMT Sinbei City councilor candidate Chen Hung-yuan (陳鴻源). In spite of the public’s desire to see the facts revealed as soon as possible, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has not produced a detailed report on investigations into who planned the attack. The slow pace of the investigation makes it impossible to dispel uncertainties and halt the spread of rumors.
It is widely believed that the shooting influenced the result of the next day’s elections. If so, then Taiwan is well on the way to being run by gangsters. If, having succeeded once in changing the course of an election, those with evil intentions were encouraged to do more of the same, it would be a grave setback for Taiwan’s democracy. Therefore, we urgently need to work out what changes need to be made to the system to prevent this, to stop the spread of illegal weapons and stem the influence of criminal gangs.
It could be that those in authority are so satisfied that the incident helped to win the elections that they aren’t thinking very hard about how to prevent such a thing happening again. Therefore, the government must be monitored closely and pressed to quickly come up with effective measures in response.
Ma is head of state, but so far his response to this shocking crime has been very disturbing. Even as the underworld rides roughshod over his authority as leader, using violence to effect who gets what share of political power, Ma seems quite unconcerned. In fact, he can hardly hide his glee about the unexpected windfall the incident brought his party in terms of votes.
He found time to be a volunteer worker at the Presidential Office, taking telephone enquiries from the public instead of focusing on how to stop Taiwan’s democracy from rotting. One can only conclude that power and authority have gone to his head.
Rather than ordering those attending the KMT’s weekly Zhongshan meeting not to talk about the shooting, the president should be actively facing the wound this unfortunate incident has inflicted on the country and its people. He should be working with the departments responsible for investigating the motives of the shooting suspect, Lin Cheng-wei (林正偉), and finding the masterminds behind the attack. Ma should be urging the investigators to swiftly give the public an account of what really happened.
Besides that, there is much more that needs to be done to avoid confrontation between the governing and opposition camps over the issue and to preserve social harmony. Ma should not need to be reminded about what he should be doing at this time.
Even if Ma is unwilling to admit that the shooting had something to do with the KMT’s winning three out of the five municipal mayorships, he should face up to the fact that nearly every KMT election rally on the night of Nov. 26 sought to connect the shooting with how people should vote the next day.
Emotive exhortations such as: “Don’t let Sean Lien’s blood flow in vain,” “Use your vote to punish violence” and “Cast your vote for justice for Sean Lien” were heard at rallies everywhere, even though the facts of the case were far from clear.
While KMT candidates may have made personal gains from this kind of manipulation, it could only further cloud the true circumstances of the incident and broaden its consequences.