Military leaders in developing countries sometimes launch military coups when the national leader is overseas. Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) is not a national leader, but he is the head of the legislature in a democratic country. During Wang’s trip overseas, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) seized the chance to get rid of him; an action not so different from a coup.
Why did Ma deem it necessary to employ such a cheap trick to consolidate his dictatorship? It was to help his push for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Is a “Ma-Xi meeting” of great importance? Of course it is. If Ma wants to win the Nobel Peace Prize, he needs a significant breakthrough. Let us take a look at some recent events that might be related to the meeting:
On June 28, the Special Investigation Division (SID), apparently recorded a telephone conversation between Wang and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘). Since Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) is very sensitive to political issues, it is highly unlikely that he waited until Aug. 21 before reporting this to Ma.
On July 4, the Want Want Group released the results of a survey showing that 47 percent of the public support a Ma-Xi meeting, while 34 percent of the public are opposed to it.
On July 10, Ma mentioned the meeting during an interview with Next TV. To ease public concern that he might compromise his status to facilitate the meeting, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) spokeswoman Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅) said that, regardless of when or where, he will always retain his status as the president of the Republic of China (ROC) during his presidency.
Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 13, Ma met with Representative to the US King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) during a stopover in New York. It is unlikely that they did not discuss a Ma-Xi meeting or Wang’s case.
On Aug. 16, during his state visit in Paraguay, Ma said that he would attend the annual APEC summit in Indonesia next month as “the leader of an economy.” In little more than a month, he had downgraded himself from president of the ROC to the leader of an economy. Perhaps a Ma-Xi meeting will also become a “Xi-Ma meeting” in the future.
On Aug. 19, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Deputy Director Sun Yafu (孫亞夫) declined Ma’s proposal, asking him to create favorable conditions for his attendance. Ma had already sold Taiwan out. What more does China want?
On Aug. 26, Ma said during an interview with TVBS that the conditions were not favorable for him to attend the APEC summit this year.
On the same day, the Chinese-language Apple Daily proposed some questions to Ma in an editorial. One of the questions asked what he meant by “creating favorable conditions.”
Finally, on Sept. 6, the SID held a press conference to reveal the case against Wang, and Ma attacked him on that day and continued to do so for several days. The public then realized that Ma wants Wang removed from his post to eliminate an obstacle to the legislature’s approval of the cross-strait trade service agreement, which helps create the favorable conditions required for a Ma-Xi meeting.
Ma first declared, in his role as president, that Wang was guilty, and then, in his role as KMT chairman, had Wang’s KMT membership revoked. This dual status can only be seen in the KMT’s party-state system. The party’s methods are similar to that of the Chinese Communist Party, which uses the party’s shuanggui, or “double regulations,” to define whether an official is corrupt, and whether he should be handed over to the judicial system.
At the moment, the anti-Ma faction within the KMT is in mourning. Since KMT lawmakers feel simultaneously threatened by the White Terror and lured by political gain, do they dare to rebel?
It is not over yet. At one of Ma’s press conferences held to attack Wang, he was accompanied by Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺). They might be the KMT’s presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2016 presidential election. If the party’s other political stars do not behave themselves, they could well be the next ones to follow Wang.
Will Ma choose to protect Taiwan’s interests, or China’s? The answer seems clear. If he is so ruthless even toward his own party members, will he have mercy for the opposition camp and the public?
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Eddy Chang