The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) achieved a whole new level of chutzpah this week in going on the defensive over its economic stimulus plans (or lack thereof) and its stolen party assets. The sheer brazenness of the comments from administration and party lawmakers almost defied belief, except that under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, we have come to expect that the emperor has no clothes.
First up was Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Steven Chen (陳士魁), who said on Wednesday that the government was hard at work trying to boost the economy, but was not concerned about whether the public could see any improvement, calling the determination of progress “a subjective matter.”
Chen went on to say that he had publicized only a few of the more than 100 plans put forward by Cabinet ministries as part of the government’s massive “Economic Power-up Plan” so as to not overburden the media, but that he could assure the public that the majority of the plans were nearly accomplished. So, he did not want to create more work for reporters by actually telling them what the government was up to, which would create the need for them to write stories about what was being done. What a pile of horse manure.
This supercilious comment echoed the ill-fated 40-second TV ad that was pulled from YouTube this week, the one with the narrative that the Economic Power-up Plan was too complex to explain in simple words, but the important thing was that a lot of things were being done. The public would just have to trust the government, was the implication. No wonder so many people were quick to label both the ad and the government’s YouTube account as frauds.
A willingness to trust in the unknowable and unseeable is what Chen and his masters are counting on — a mindset that hearkens back to the KMT’s authoritarian era, when the public was more malleable (or more scared).
The only example of the “more than 100 plans” that Chen was willing to mention was a proposal to take effect early next year that would mean people no longer having to routinely renew their vehicle licenses. He said the policy would benefit 15 million motorcyclists and 6 million drivers, adding: “If people still cannot feel an improvement after that, then I am speechless.”
It is hard to see how reducing paperwork for motorists is going to get an export-oriented economy back on its feet, but Chen’s implication was that it is not the government’s problem if the public is too slow or too dim-witted to understand what is being done on its behalf. Chen’s comment left many speechless, but from laughter, not disbelief.
Just as the KMT and its officials cannot understand why the public is unwilling to see what is not there, like the emperor’s clothes, they do not understand why critics continue to harp on about the party’s stolen assets.
On Thursday, it was KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng’s (吳育昇) turn to defend the indefensible. In a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee to review a proposed bill on political parties, Wu complained of persecution by opposition lawmakers who wanted to include something about the KMT’s stolen assets in the bill. He said only the courts could decide “whether KMT assets are legal or illegal, it’s not a decision that should be made by the legislature.”
It does not take a court to decide what was stolen. It has always been very clear. Any assets obtained from property, companies and facilities held by the Japanese colonial government at the end of World War II should rightfully have ended up with the national treasury, not the KMT. Any profits derived from such stolen assets are also tainted fruit and should be handed over to the treasury. This is not persecution, it is fact, and only the KMT remains too blinkered to see it.
A brazen defense of the indefensible is becoming the trademark of the Ma administration. If all the energy spent on whitewashing was put toward something that was actually productive, the economy would be bouncing back already, as would Ma’s poll numbers.