Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Ko’s mantra rebuts his heart’s hope for top job

By Chen Fu 陳復

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) often mentions a passage from Buddhism’s Diamond Sutra: “If a Buddha clings to the notions of an ego, a personality, a being and a life, he is not a true Buddha.”

These four notions advise people to abandon their egocentric thinking, but is Ko really capable of that?

Ko uses deconstructionist thinking to manipulate symbols and names. He claims to be part of the “Chinese cultural sphere” and divides “Chinese” into three types: cultural China, which he does not reject; economic China, which he thinks can be discussed; and political China, which he rejects as impossible. This raises the question: What exactly does his “one family across the Taiwan Strait” mean?

Last year, he apologized in an interview with the Greenpeace Broadcasting Station to those who were offended by his “one family” statement, but before attending the twin-city forum in Shanghai in July, he still insisted on that view. Is this an expression of abandoning egocentric thinking?

When Ko first took office, he gained momentum by exposing the “five major corruption cases.” However, since winning a second term, he has failed to mention these still unresolved cases, saying that the phrase was not his invention and that people should not be so picky. He even suggested that the phrase could be changed to the “five strange cases.”

Ko has gradually revealed that he attaches great importance to alliances and using people and things as tools. The most obvious trick is luring pan-blue camp politicians to his side.

He has never paid any attention to the annual commemoration of the 823 Artillery Bombardment on Aug. 23, 1958, but he still attend the event with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

On one hand, he says he will not run for president if Gou announces a bid, because he is not strong enough. On the other, given that his Taiwan People’s Party has failed to attract many members, he says that if Gou decides not to run, he would ask whether People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) would nominate him.

Ko calls himself a “political novice,” but if someone constantly contradicts themselves, how can he ever be believed?

If someone thinks they are better than others, they are unlikely to care too much about the welfare of ordinary people. Therefore, a more realistic interpretation of Ko’s notions of “an ego, a personality, a being and a life” is that through political maneuvers, he hopes to win the top job and achieve the ultimate life with no ego, personality, being or life except for those in his own heart. What kind of mental state is that?

As Ko does not deny that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is a spiritual mentor who he truly admires, do not forget that Lee once cited Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida’s “absolute nothingness,” saying: “I am I, in not being I.”

Through his constant self-denial and strategy of “forgetting the fishnet after catching the fish,” the self-proclaimed “dark-green” Ko is learning from Lee by luring the pan-blue camp’s politicians to divide that camp. He is trying to accomplish the historic mission given by his spiritual mentor.

Chen Fu is a professor in the School of Liberal Arts at National Ilan University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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