Letter: Popular, but reliable?

By Charles Hong  / 

Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 8

According to a recent poll, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is the most popular politician in Taiwan. He may be popular, but is he reliable?

Soon after Ma became the chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), he sold some "KMT assets" which are considered national assets by many people. Before this dispute on ownership is settled, he has already put hundreds of millions of US dollars into KMT bank accounts that can be used to finance his 2008 presidential election campaign.

A few years ago, a Harvard alumnus openly accused Ma of being one of the spies monitoring and reporting "dissident" activities and remarks made by overseas Taiwanese students to the KMT totalitarian regime during the "white terror" era. Many students were blacklisted and were not allowed to go back to their own homeland.

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) nominated Ma to run for the mayor of Taipei as "a new Taiwanese." However, Mayor Ma has acted more like "a new Chinese" -- praising China's freedom, flying China's flag and banning Taiwan's own flag, adopting China's transliteration system instead of Taiwan's own, offering unification of Taiwan with China if China apologizes for the Tiananmen incident, keeping silent on the democratic activity in Hong Kong and China's missile buildup against Taiwan, boycotting the arms purchase bill recklessly and asking foreigners to pronounce "Taipei" as "Taibei" in line with Beijing. Ma has become the favorite son of China. But is he the right choice for Taiwan in 2008?

Under Ma's seven-year administration, it's hard to cite major accomplishments in Taipei. Three inexcusable catastrophic incidents did occur: the cover-up of SARS cases, flooding of the rapid transit system and sending a critically injured child to a Taichung hospital.

Charles Hong

Columbus, Ohio