Sat, Dec 29, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Ma’s revisionist history 101

Given former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) comments during his promotion of Hsiao Hsu-tsen’s (蕭旭岑) account of his eight years in the Presidential Office, prospective buyers should look for Memoir on Eight Years of Governance (八年執政回憶錄) under modern fiction, not biography or history.

From his comments that the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) transitional justice initiative is an anachronism and a sign that the administration is sliding toward authoritarianism, to his claim that the September strife of 2013 was indirectly responsible for the development of the 2014 Sunflower movement and that Taiwan’s only options are either maintaining the cross-strait “status quo” by adhering to the “1992 consensus,” or unifying with China, Ma shows that his version of reality is about as real as a television reality show.

For Ma to equate the Transitional Justice Commission’s proposals to remove symbols of the nation’s authoritarian past and the Ministry of Education’s months-long refusal to approve National Taiwan University professor Kuan Chung-ming’s (管中閔) election as school president with the rise of illiberal democracy is beyond absurd, as was his statement at last week’s book launch that “it never occurred to me that the rise of an illiberal democracy would also be seen in Taiwan.”

That from a man who was groomed early on by the authoritarian-era Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, became a Cabinet member just a year after martial law was lifted and then served as minister of justice in the early 1990s — years when the KMT’s party-state rule of this nation was a textbook case for an illiberal democracy.

The imprint of that grooming was evident in Ma’s efforts as KMT chairman to oust then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from office by having him expelled from the party, which would have cost Wang his legislator-at-large seat, because he was unhappy that Wang was not getting the cross-strait service trade agreement approved by the legislature as fast as he wanted, efforts that led to the “September strife” scandal.

It was Ma’s determination to ram the trade pact through the legislature — although it was then-KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung’s (張慶忠) actions as convener of the Internal Administration Committee on March 17, 2014, to approve a review of the pact — that triggered the protests and occupation of the Legislative Yuan that became known as the Sunflower movement, not his personal feud with Wang and the previous fall’s debacle.

Ma’s unificationist fantasies as president did this nation no favors and his continued defense of them are a threat to the Taiwanese he claims to serve.

It might be his legal training that compels him to specify that unification can only be achieved at some nebulous future “in a democratic and peaceful manner” through a referendum in Taiwan, but he continues to ignore not only the reality of Beijing’s opposition to any democratic norms, but its aggressive efforts to undermine this nation and its electoral process.

There is one memorable literary event during Ma’s presidency that he was unlikely to have spent time reminiscing about with Hsaio: the time he was hit by a copy of George Kerr’s Formosa Betrayed thrown by university student Yen Ming-wei (顏銘緯) to protest what he said was Ma selling out Taiwan to China.

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