It seems that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee has finally, in what is formidable hindsight, discovered that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is not worth standing up for. Ma has no idea where he is, or what he is supposed to be doing.
Ma basks in the light of the image of incorruptibility he has fashioned for himself, and relies on this to absolve himself of all sins, such as the political incompetence of which he is often accused.
He takes great pride in this most fundamental of traits and insists everyone under him follows suit.
However, whether or not the officials under him are clean depends on their individual integrity, and even more so on legal sanctions.
Ma has evoked the poetry of Song Dynasty general Yue Fei (岳飛), who had “served the country with the utmost loyalty” (精忠報國) tattooed on his back to encourage them to fight corruption. This is patently ridiculous.
The Republic of China (ROC), which prides itself on being Asia’s first modern republic, has been around for a century, and yet Ma feels the need to travel 1,000 years back in time to find a model of incorruptibility in imperial China.
This really does not reflect very well on the ROC.
Apparently Ma, just like Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) before him, has a special place in his heart for old stories from feudal China.
You could often see tattoos on the arms of soldiers in Chiang’s army, including Yue Fei’s “serve the country with the utmost loyalty” and shazhu bamao (殺朱拔毛) — a play on words, inspired by an old saying, that basically meant killing People’s Liberation Army general Zhu De (朱德) and “plucking out” Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chairman Mao Zedong (毛澤東).
However, you never saw any anti-corruption slogans.
Ma is always going on about fighting corruption.
His defense during his own corruption case in 2006 was based on his use of a special expense account modeled on the Song Dynasty gongshi money (公使錢) system, where generals would give out money to boost morale. Now he is bringing out stories from the Song dynasty 1,000 years ago. Will he also take a leaf out of Chiang’s book and order those under his command to have anti-corruption tattoos?
Whether Ma sees himself as president of a country or the governor of an administrative area, he is in public office and responsible for implementing the laws of the land.
The trouble is, he doesn’t really seem to understand what he is supposed to be doing.
On the much-delayed not guilty verdict of the Hsichih Trio, Ma merely said he “hoped” that such illegitimate extortion of confessions in criminal cases would never happen again.
This is like a child’s prayer, or a journalist’s closing observations. “Hope” is not a term that should be used by someone in public office, who is responsible for guaranteeing that such things do not happen again on their watch.
That being as it may, Ma should put his money where his mouth is and set up an inquiry into whether any confessions were extracted through force from former Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), coercing him into testifying against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during the corruption case against him.
If he doesn’t take this upon himself, he should just leave office, don his shorts and go for a swim or a run, and not keep doing his country or its citizens wrong.