Many people in Taiwan may be wondering what President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) principle motive was for the political struggle he launched within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Actually, Ma’s actions revealed his purpose quite some time ago.
The telltale sign is that, while Ma has been manipulating the KMT and the judicial and executive branches of government to get rid of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), he has also been taking part in various promotional activities for the cross-strait service trade agreement, which has been signed, but has yet to be approved by the legislature.
In Ma’s view, the only way for Taiwan to get out of its economic difficulties and pursue growth is to get more deeply involved with China. He thinks that if Taiwan does not head over to China it will become marginalized.
The legislature’s new session opens today and Ma wants the service trade agreement to be approved come what may. Ma sees Wang as an obstacle to this, and that is why he wants him out of the way.
Ma got it all wrong. Wang made his position very clear at the press conference he held at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport when he returned from Malaysia on Tuesday last week. Wang said that he would think of a way to do his duty with respect to any task given to him by the KMT chairman (Ma), no matter how much effort opposition lawmakers made to block it. Even if the job was delayed for a while, he would get it done in the end, he said.
Let us remember how much controversy there was about the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. However, it was still passed in the end. Last week a well-known observer commented that Wang has to some extent been helping Ma to keep his government going. This observation fits the facts quite well. In the eyes of those who do not like the direction in which the KMT has been taking this country over the last five years, Wang has often acted as an accomplice in getting Ma’s policies implemented.
That being the case, why is Ma so determined to get rid of Wang?
It has to do with the plan hatched by the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) behind closed doors for Taiwan to get swallowed up by China. According to the two parties’ timetable for pushing through economic and trade integration, the service trade agreement should have been approved during the previous legislative session, but it will now have to be dealt with in the upcoming session.
Wang said it would be better for the legislature to delay its discussions on the agreement until November, after public hearings have been held, instead of trying to rush it through.
The KMT and the CCP are both very unhappy about Wang’s suggestion, because if the agreement does not get approved by the end of this year, it will get delayed until after the Lunar New Year holiday.
The problem is that seven-in-one local elections will be held toward the end of next year, by which time public discontent and arguments about the agreement will not have had time to die down and be forgotten.
If the KMT does not do well in those elections, it will be hard for Ma to stay on as party chairman. He will at least be reduced to a lame duck. In that case, he would lose his authority to keep meddling in the party’s leadership succession. It would also be uncertain whether Ma can make a “soft landing” after he steps down as president in 2016.