There have been reports that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) wife, Lee Chia-fen (李佳芬), on Aug. 22 sold her house that was illegally built on farmland in Yunlin County’s Gukeng Township (古坑).
This style of “out of sight, out of mind” crisis management was dubbed the “arrow-cutting method” by Chinese academic Li Zongwu (李宗吾) in his Thick Black Theory (厚黑學): cutting off the shaft of an arrow without removing the part of the arrow that is left in the body.
To be honest, the farmhouse itself or the luxury of the house is not the problem — the problem is that the house was illegally built on farmland.
For example, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) was also haunted by a farmhouse affair when he was then-Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) running mate during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Both were nice farmhouses registered under their wives’ names. If we really have to classify them, Han’s house is a bit more luxurious than Su’s was, but no farming was going on at either site.
Both farmhouses were a stain for a presidential and a vice presidential candidate. Su’s left a bad impression on the public because, although legal, his family had taken advantage of a legal loophole in order to build it, while Han’s was indisputably built illegally on farmland.
Once such a problem is revealed, the main concern is the attitude and moral rectitude of the person accused of wrongdoing.
Faced with the public’s doubts, Su, without thinking twice, donated the farmhouse and farmland to the Changjhih Township (長治) Office in Pingtung County. Han’s wife sold her farmhouse for proft.
There is no comparing the attitude and moral rectitude of the two families.
Here are some other examples: When the public questioned the sources of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ill-gotten assets, then-KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) chose to sell some of the best assets to “bona fide third parties,” instead of returning them to their original owners and making up for past mistakes.
It seems Han and Ma believe they can distance themselves from illegal actions by selling off illegal assets. Ma, who is part of the KMT intelligentsia, and Han, who fancies himself as a grassroots candidate, chose the “arrow-cutting method.”
Furthermore, when the public criticized then-education minister Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) last year for having attended a forum on new tech in Hangzhou, China, without government approval after attending an International Council for Science meeting in Suzhou, China, during his term as National Science Council minister in 2005, Wu chose to resign.
However, when the public criticized National Taiwan University president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), a member of the KMT intelligentsia, for lecturing in China for years without applying for government approval, Kuan chose to ignore the criticism and remain at his post.
Judging from the behavior of these figures in the blue and green camps, Taiwanese should be able to see the difference between a “culture of shame” and a “shameless culture.”
Chang Kuo-tsai is a retired associate professor at National Hsinchu University of Education.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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