Have all state resources become campaign tools for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election bid? This appears to be a valid concern in light of a recent series of incidents which suggest the possible exploitation of government resources for partisan gain.
First, it was reported that in a notice recently mailed by the Ministry of the Interior to low-income and disadvantaged families informing them of the new social welfare subsidies, which come into effect on Sunday, the ministry made special mention of Ma’s name, with Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) saying in the opening paragraph that the program was made possible “under President Ma’s directive.” Similar phrases of praise were also spotted in letters of notification mailed out by other agencies, such as the Council of Labor Affairs, informing the public of new policies which also take effect on Sunday.
Despite previous notification letters seldom giving a president credit for implementing new subsidy programs, it is little wonder that under the Ma government such phrases appeared in the letters mailed out by agencies.
Then came an even more absurd piece of news on Tuesday: That former deputy legislative speaker Yao Eng-chi (饒穎奇), who once served in the military police, reportedly delivered a speech at the Military Police Command on Dec. 10 in support of Ma’s re-election bid. Whatever happened to the armed forces’ repeated calls for personnel to maintain administrative neutrality?
This is not the end of it. Just when one wonders how the government can get more ridiculous, it was reported yesterday that a group of prosecutors intercepted a tour bus in Greater Kaohsiung, claiming they had received a tip-off that the passengers, returning from a wedding banquet in Taipei, had actually been on an outing in exchange for supporting the pan-green camp. It was only after the passengers produced video clips of the wedding showing that no pan-green candidates attended the event, but rather a pan-blue candidate, that the prosecutors stopped their questioning and left.
Granted, the prosecutors might very well have been doing their job — probing vote-buying allegations. However, by virtue of doing their job, weren’t they supposed to first verify the tip before launching an action that harassed people and created a public impression that a particular political camp is engaging in illegal campaign actions?
Last, but not least, Next Magazine carried a report yesterday alleging that the National Security Council head acted beyond his scope by instructing the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau to monitor Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) campaign information.
One can’t help but wonder whether all spheres of government — including the administration, judiciary and intelligence services — have now been caught in a certain political camp’s claws, in which they exploit government resources for a certain individual’s and party’s gain — and more despicably, using taxpayers’ money to do so.
Maybe it is time the president and his government revisit the meaning of the term administrative neutrality and prove to the Taiwanese that they can walk the walk.