After getting caught by their clumsy handling of various issues, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration have been trying to divert attention by clamping down on adulterated or mislabeled foods, notably cooking and salad oils. Government authorities have ordered shops to take all suspect oils off the shelves, but at the same time Ma goes on selling a whole range of mislabeled policies.
Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘), who proudly wears the label of judicial tough guy, got into trouble for visiting Ma in the middle of the night and giving him confidential information. Ma and Huang cooked up questionable accusations aimed at undermining Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), but now Huang has been indicted on charges of divulging secrets.
Huang remains unrepentant, setting his own standards and confidently saying that he will not take himself off the shelf unless he is found guilty in court.
Ma claimed that the Wang affair was a matter of principle, taking aim at the speaker on moral and legal grounds in the hope of shooting him down. Much to Ma’s surprise, Wang, who has always been tagged as an obedient fellow, has stubbornly resisted and refused to be taken off the shelf.
Wang’s attitude has peeled off Ma’s gentlemanly label to reveal his true colors. The president keeps smiling despite his failure to oust Wang, but his grin cannot mask his ruthless intentions.
Ma’s boastful promise of a “golden decade” was labeled as containing wholesome ingredients like “liberalization” and “globalization,” but the main ingredient has turned out to be “Sinicization.”
Ma’s big sellout to China has been a big setback for the economy, but he still blithely refuses to take his shoddy product off the shelves.
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) wants to label the Republic of China (ROC) as what it really is — just Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. Although this might not sit very well with the Constitution and even though it could be a bit hard to sell in the international community, at least this label clearly distinguishes our national brand from that of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Ma, on the other hand, claims that the ROC includes Outer Mongolia, which gained its independence under the name Mongolia in 1920, as well as the PRC, which was founded in 1949 — even though they are both member states of the UN.
Labeling the ROC as containing all these ingredients is a quack remedy if ever there was one.
One thing Ma and Chinese leaders have in common is that they are always going on about the “Chinese nation” — a concept heavily tainted with self-importance and xenophobia. Nevertheless, when a suicide attack took place at Tiananmen Square in Beijing last week, China’s public security officials said they suspected the perpetrators were ethnic Uighurs, rather than members of the all-inclusive “Chinese nation.”
ROC founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) fomented revolution to kick out the “alien” Manchu rulers of the Qing Dynasty. Only after he and his allies had succeeded in removing the Manchus from power did he make up the slogan of a “Chinese nation” that included Han, Manchu and various other ethnic groups.
The “Chinese nation” has no real ethnic or cultural basis. It is only a way of getting a lot of different people to identify with a single country. Ma’s arbitrary claim that “the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the Chinese nation” is an attempt to force Taiwanese to swallow a fake political product that has been sitting on the shelf for the past 100 years.
James Wang is a political commentator.
Translated by Julian Clegg