“While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party,” then-US vice president Al Gore said in December 2000 in his concession speech to Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush after the US Supreme Court weighed in on a recount dispute that had dragged on for weeks.
In light of the political storm ignited by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Ma would be well advised to look to Gore’s example and reconsider his insistence that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) appeal the Taiwan High Court’s ruling regarding Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) party membership.
Granted, the circumstances surrounding Gore involved different issues and contentions than the ones Ma is in, but in essence they boil down to the same idea — that partisan rancor must be put aside for the overall good of the nation.
While Ma, in his role as KMT chairman, has been insistent that Wang’s KMT membership be revoked because of allegations of improper lobbying, the courts have spoken — twice. The Taipei District Court ruled in favor of Wang’s request for an injunction against losing his party membership — and therefore his legislative seat — on Sept. 13. On Monday, the High Court rejected the KMT’s appeal against the district court’s ruling.
Oblivious to his basement-level approval rating and the widening scandal over whether the Special Investigation Division’s wiretapping operation was legal, Ma appears to be determined to continue in what is looking more and more like a personal grudge match. Even though his responsibilities as head of state call for him to serve the public and guard the nation’s interests, Ma seems determined to place the KMT’s interests above those of the nation.
This was evident in his interview with News 98 radio show host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) on Wednesday, during which the only topic he expounded upon was the so-called “September political strife.” Forget the needs and wants of the public, who are far more concerned with the abysmal state of the economy and steadily declining real wages — Ma is more interested in political mudslinging and scoring points.
The real losers are not Ma, Wang, the prosecutors, the KMT or other politicians. It is the Taiwanese, who can only watch as the president locks himself in an ivory tower, obsessed by his emotions and vengeance.
Ma keeps saying that the allegations of improper lobbying by Wang have “tarnished the party’s image and reputation,” which is why his party membership should be revoked. However, if this argument holds true for Wang, should it not also apply to Ma? Certainly he has “tarnished the party’s image and reputation” with his woeful performance both as president and party chairman, as mirrored in his consistently sinking approval ratings.
The country has been mired in this political strife for almost a month. How much longer can this situation go on?
If Ma believes that Wang had engaged in improper lobbying, then he should, in accordance with due process, submit what he deems as evidence to the judicial authorities so they can do their job. Most of the alleged evidence against Wang so far seems to be “because Ma says so.”
Likewise, Ma should do his job as head of the state, which is to govern, not politick.
Gore demonstrated admirable statesmanship by understanding the need to move from partisanship to governing. It can only be hoped that Ma will demonstrate the same amount of class and integrity and not let his personal biases eclipse his solemn duty as the president.
Only if he does so will history be able to regard Ma’s presidency in an honorable light.