In the past the KMT has tried to use legislation not to return the assets but to detoxify them instead, rebranding this “ill-gotten wealth” as legitimately obtained. It is trying this with the current draft political party law, too. Can laws make stolen goods rightfully owned property? And if the KMT is able to pull this one off, how can anyone in Taiwan be sure their property rights will be guaranteed? More importantly, if it is successful in detoxifying these assets, Taiwanese democracy itself is in peril, because there will be little fair competition between the parties to speak of.
The past four years have seen so many examples of Ma’s curious ideas of how a country should be governed that people have lost count. It is quite unfathomable how someone as utterly clueless as Ma can get away with everything he does, until one remembers he has access to these party assets. There has not been one election they have not helped the party win: They have been instrumental in guaranteeing the party’s perpetual advantage in the national legislature and local government.
As party chairman, Ma has control over these “ill-gotten assets,” as well as the right to nominate candidates, which means that he has legislators eating from his hand. When Ma says elderly farmers should get such and such a subsidy, the legislators nod; when he says there is to be a hike in fuel and electricity prices, up they go; when he says there is to be a capital gains tax on securities transactions, it goes ahead. So when he talks of “one country, two areas,” you can bet that is what is going to happen, too.
This is a tragedy for Taiwanese democracy. Ma is using these “ill-gotten assets” against Taiwanese, the very people his party stole them from. He dallies with unification; he dallies with the economy; and then, when his squeaky-clean image is exposed, he tries to change the law to detoxify the assets and bag the lot for the party.
The KMT is in bed with big business. Life is becoming increasingly difficult for ordinary people who are now facing the threat of being sold down the river. How can anyone say that the party assets issue has nothing to do with them? Ma and the KMT are holding on to these assets as if their lives depended on it, which in a way they do. Taiwanese have to find a way to shake off their shackles and save themselves. There is no better place to start than by addressing the issue of these “ill-gotten assets.”
Translated by Paul Cooper