The Liberty Times Editorial: KMT smear campaign backfires

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - Page 8

The Yu Chang Biologics Co case which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), his running mate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have used to target Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) over the past few days has backfired and left Ma, Wu and the KMT with egg on their faces because it was a poorly executed attempt at a smear campaign.

On Dec. 13, Council for Economic Planning and Development Minster Christina Liu (劉憶如), who had provided two official documents with Tsai’s signature on them, admitted that the investment information materials distributed at an investors’ conference for biotechnology company TaiMed Biologics Co provided by her to legislators the day before were incorrectly dated and that she was willing to apologize for the mistake.

Liu’s quick U-turn came about because Tsai’s team remained adamant that the information she had provided was false and that the dates listing Tsai as a principal leader of the company were clearly wrong.

Tsai’s camp also said that if Liu could not produce concrete evidence by the afternoon of Dec. 13, they would file a lawsuit against her.

Liu’s apology highlights how Tsai, while being the target of a smear attack, continues to go about her campaign in an unperturbed manner, with confidence in her own moral conduct.

This is certain to have a deep and lasting impression on how the public view Tsai’s cool-headed self-assurance.

In addition, the apology also allows voters that Ma, Wu and the KMT are presenting false information to distort the truth in an “anything goes” approach to win the election.

This is a strategy designed to disillusion even more voters about the Ma-Wu ticket. The incident further underscores recent observations implying that Ma and Wu’s campaign team and the KMT are anxious about their low approval ratings.

The way they have gone from increasing social welfare payments to smear campaigns make them appear like a drowning man clutching at straws. This impression will of course give voters an even worse impression of the Ma-Wu ticket.

Clearly, what Liu called a “confusion of dates” is a mere excuse aimed at diverting attention from the seriousness of the matter.

From the very start, the “Yu Chang smear campaign” was orchestrated by Ma, Wu and the KMT. Liu simply followed suit and provided the “damning” documents with the single purpose of finishing Tsai off with one fatal blow.

As such, Ma and Wu, who have “criticized and advised” Tsai during the controversy, owe both her and the public an apology for their unconscionable behavior.

It should also be investigated how involved they have been behind the scenes. In the beginning, Ma and Wu’s campaign team were happy to go after Tsai, and their plan was to benefit from the scandal, while pretending it had nothing to do with them. However, the public are more likely to believe that they were involved all along.

Luckily, during the highly sensationalized “Yu Chang smear campaign,” Tsai’s camp remained cool-headed and rose to the challenge. As a result, the truth of the matter came out quickly and any danger to her campaign was avoided.

However, let us suppose for a moment that the smear campaign happened just a few days before polling day. In that case Tsai’s camp would not have had time to clarify things.

Now, with lesss than a month until the election, we all have to be prepared. As Ma and Wu are in a critical situation, they and the KMT are very likely to come up with more dirty tricks.

In that event, if more allegations are made close to election day, leaving no time to find out the truth, we must keep in mind the lessons learned.

In addition, Liu’s actions would seem to implicate her in the forging of documents and in seeking to undermine the electability of one of the presidential candidates.

As a political appointee, she must accept political responsibility and not try to cling to her post. If she resigns now, she might at least save her reputation as an academic.

As Liu’s superiors, it is even more unsuitable for Ma and Wu to tolerate a government official who has undermined the democratic system. If they do, voters will have even more reason to suspect their involvement in the smear campaign.

Recently, Wu slammed the Forestry Bureau for being “infinitely incompetent” because it was terminating forestry land leases and letting the land sit idle. In comparison, Liu’s submission of clearly misdated documents has had a serious impact on the fairness of the presidential election and greatly harmed Taiwanese democracy. Surely that is an even higher form of “infinite incompetence.”

The Yu Chang case is closely linked to the development of Taiwan’s biotech industry and should never have been manipulated for election purposes. When this case was used in an attempt to smear Tsai, key figures in the biotech industry came out to defend her.

The reason for Ma and Wu’s low approval rating is their faulty policies over the past three years, which have made life harder for most Taiwanese. Faced with public dissatisfaction, rather than trying to come up with better policies to win back voters, Ma and Wu have resorted to smearing their opponents in an effort to hide their own shortcomings.

The Yu Chang smear campaign is a product of the reckless methods Tsai’s opponents have resorted to out of pure desperation, but now that the truth about the case is out, Ma and Wu have had their credibility ruined and they will never be able to use cheap tricks to gain votes again.

Given the fact they have been so incompetent while in office, and that they have now been caught out trying to smear Tsai, it is hard to see how Ma and Wu have got the gall to even continue their election campaign.

Translated by Drew Cameron