Sun, May 18, 2014 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: US again supports Ma and the KMT

The US recently tried to help the embattled President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over a media allegation that he is subject to pay US taxes as a resident alien.

Joseph Donovan, managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) Washington office, suggested that Ma had renounced his “green card” status in reply to Taiwanese Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun’s (沈呂巡) letter, a day after the allegation surfaced on Wednesday.

“We have previously been informed that President Ma Ying-jeou’s abandonment of his former legal permanent resident status has long been included in appropriate US immigration system records. This issue is therefore closed,” the letter said.

This political interference by the US was reminiscent of the incident during the 2012 presidential election in which a “senior US official” reportedly called the Financial Times to say that then-Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had left Washington with “distinct doubts” whether she is willing or able to continue stable cross-strait relations, which dealt a blow to Tsai’s election campaign.

The US government on Thursday once again showed its unabashed preference to see the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in power as it did ahead of the 2012 presidential election when, along with a leak to the Financial Times, it implemented a set of measures trying to tip the result in the KMT’s favor, despite professing US neutrality in Taiwan’s democratic elections.

The way the US sent out the message in the two cases may appear to be unimpeachable and yet it is reprehensible because they are examples of the distribution of subjective content in favor of a given cause — to influence Taiwanese and further the US agenda — rather than the provision of evidence-based, factual information that could help the formulation of informed opinion, which is crucial to democratic development.

Donovan’s reply to Shen’s letter was only three paragraphs long. In addition to saying that they were informed of Ma relinquishing his status, he briefly mentioned the allegation made by the Chinese-language Next Magazine and explained that the US does not expand classes of taxpayers required to pay taxes on worldwide incomes under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Nowhere is there any evidence in the letter that people can examine and make their own judgements.

Concerns have already been voiced that the US must remain neutral during the next presidential election in Taiwan, although the vote is still two years away.

For example, Randall Schriver, head of the Project 2049 Institute, has repeatedly called on the US not to repeat its “mistake” before the previous presidential election when it looked as though it had chosen sides. He argues that the US should support processes that help Taiwan deepen its resiliency, and that the US should have the confidence that the next leader of Taiwan will be capable of managing cross-strait relations no matter which party governs the country after the 2016 election.

Despite the speedy clarification from the AIT office in Taipei that it was the Ma administration’s decision to make the Donovan letter public, not the US’, the US getting involved in Ma’s green card issue in this way reneged on the US’ position that it does not comment on individuals’ visa or immigration status.

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