Ma’s trilogy of power is very simple. He was lost for words and even sobbed when he was re-elected as chairman of the KMT, with the support of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強). His hold on the party chairmanship allows him to maintain control over Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), now a legislator-at-large, and 65 KMT legislators. It also empowers his government to push through motions such as the proposal for a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao (貢寮) District, New Taipei City, and approval of the service trade agreement, and to vote down any proposal to impeach him.
With the support of his accomplices in the establishment, Ma can respond to any civil resistance by mobilizing the police and judiciary to suppress and exclude people who resist. This has already happened. However angry protesters may be, and no matter how many people go down with cuts and bruises, their actions are like firework displays — spectacular while they last, but soon disappearing without trace. For all the noise protesters may make, every article of every motion proposed by the government is sure to get passed into law.
This is the same situation that gave Ma’s regime the confidence to spread rumors about the dean of a university economics department, naming the individual concerned, and to unleash KMT followers to paint opponents in all lines of business as supporters of the opposition pan-green camp. It may also explain why the charges listed in the indictment of military personnel implicated in the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) are not as serious as one might expect, and why the Cabinet “respects” local authorities’ land policies that strongly resemble what happened at Wukan (烏崁) Village in China’s Guangdong Province. Thus the central government did nothing to stop the demolition of people’s homes in Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔).
The real reason Ma’s government can act in such a wanton and arbitrary manner is that there is nobody around who can pose a serious challenge to Ma’s hold on power. No matter how much heckling, pushing and shoving may go on, Ma’s presidency remains unchallenged and he can do as he pleases.
Everyone can see where the problem lies, so the question is, what can anyone do about it?
In 44 BC, Roman consul Julius Caesar, who had been proclaimed “dictator in perpetuity,” was unwilling to hand his dictatorial powers back to the Senate of the Roman republic. Caesar was getting ready for a military campaign against the distant Parthian Empire and he was planning to take the title of king. Under the circumstances, only Caesar’s closest associate, Brutus, and other members of the Senate were able to terminate Caesar’s ambitions.
One of the advantages of the age of democracy is that there is no need to resort to violence. Nevertheless, the group of KMT accomplices who have been trampling on the public along with Ma should neither remain silent nor act wickedly. Up until now, they have not dissociated themselves from Ma and his policies or publicly reconsidered their own roles, but rather have willingly garnered votes for him.