Since the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP) was established in 1990, it has promoted the writing of a new constitution, published a white paper titled Peaceful Coexistence: Two Countries, Two Systems as well as books such as A Look at Primary School Textbooks. It has become a representative of Taiwanese society.
The association published About Lee Teng-hui ahead of Taiwan's first direct presidential election in 1996, About James Soong for the 2000 presidential election and Words and actions of Lien and Soong for the 2004 poll. I dare not presume that these publications had any influence on the elections, but we chose to give our opinion because we care deeply about the future of Taiwan and feel this is the responsibility of intellectuals.
We planned a similar book for next year's presidential election about Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Before this year's summer vacation, TAUP chairman Tsai Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) invited political commentators Ruan Ming (阮銘), Paul Lin (林保華) and some of the senior association members to form an editorial committee. I was to be chief editor. My original idea was to name the book "A Close Look at Ma Ying-jeou," and let each contributor write an article according to their specialty and interest.
But soon summer was over, and little progress had been made. Therefore it was decided that we should compile published articles done by each contributor and the result was the current book. The editors thought that although "a close look" was a good term, "explained" was more direct and sounded better when read out in Taiwanese. I agreed that Ma Ying-jeou Explained was a better title.
The "Ma Ying-jeou phenomenon" that has played out on the political stage for 10 years now is certainly something worthy of recording and researching. It goes back to the 1990s, when the KMT half-willingly cooperated with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and put up a show of democratization.
But localization caused the KMT to split and then to lose power in the 2000 election. After that, then KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Ma returned to the party's roots and embraced China's ideology. Not only did the KMT use its legislative majority and local political power to boycott the pro-localization government, it wants to use Ma's charisma to "align itself with Taiwan to be able to keep China" in its relentless attempt to regain power.
Although the DPP has done a lot of questionable things over the past seven or eight years, in the end it is still on the road to normalization of the country. If "son of the party-state" Ma gets elected, there will be a great many detours on this road, and Taiwan might even start down a path of no return.
Ma has always been against Taiwanese independence and an anti-communist; he has been loyal to the old values that the Republic of China represented. Today, his anti-communism has turned into a pro-China attitude, and some events in his background have still not been cleared up.
Media reporting about him was slanted in the past, giving him an image of being perfect, with a little mystery thrown in. The TAUP's book will help everyone see Ma in a clearer light.
Chen Yi-shen is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica.
Translated by Anna Stiggelbout