From top to bottom, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) leaders appear to be deeply afraid of the possibility that the public will soon realize who and what they really are and what they really stand for. Yet, it seems, they have done their very best in the recent past to put their innate authoritarian arrogance and structural corruption on full public display.
The top echelons within the party are meddling in high-school textbook content — partly by deleting historical facts referring to the Japanese colonial era and partly by returning to the colonial-style brainwashing of students over Taiwanese history. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is using the Republic of China Constitution — one that was forced on the people of Taiwan — as an excuse, saying that school textbooks must be written “in accordance with the Constitution.”
The Ministry of Education is playing down these “imperial decrees,” saying that this is all just “a reflection of what the public wants.” However, the only reason they are taking such an arrogant and domineering attitude to these issues is because the KMT won the last election.
However, reinstating colonial education was not one of Ma’s election promises. Instead, he relies on lower-level leaders who are carrying the party forward by not questioning policies and whose only concerns are getting their hands on more cash and further fattening themselves.
This juxtaposition highlights the contradictions between the high and low levels in the KMT. Lower-level leaders who carry the whole party machine are enriching themselves and spend their efforts promoting the party’s electoral prospects, while the higher leaders who are carried on their shoulders are using the Constitution as a weapon to threaten the public.
The fact that someone talked about “the going rate” in connection to what former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) allegedly asked for in order to provide his “lobbying” services implies that this is not an isolated case. The Lin case also allegedly involves Vice President Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) key local election workers, sisters and local gang leaders, who all seem to have profited from their connections by functioning as go-betweens and then earning “commissions.” This is all symptomatic of universal and structurally ingrained corruption.
Common people work their whole lives and their pension payments are still not enough to pay the “commission” required by a go-between. A dentist in the US charges US$100 to extract one tooth; Lin, a dentist by profession, would have had to pull out 19,300 teeth to earn the equivalent of the US$1.93 million he has reportedly admitted to taking in bribes.
To the people involved in the Lin corruption case making money was apparently as easy as pie; they apparently had so much of it, in fact, that they had to burn it and flush it down the toilet when they were found out. That does not mean that they necessarily supported the top KMT leaders’ attempts to sell out Taiwan — all they cared about was continuing to help the party win elections allowing them another chance to earn extra “commission.” Ma, on the other hand, who claims to detest the connections to these factions and their corrupt practices, is not above relying on them to win his elections. Ma wants power, they want money.