Mon, Oct 29, 2007 - Page 1 News List

President slams Ma over father's urn

'MALEVOLENT' Members of the KMT presidential candidate's campaign lashed out at Chen Shui-bian after he said the urn's inscription revealed Ma's own true colors

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential nominee Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) deceased father became the target of political mudslinging yesterday when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) accused Ma of lying about his loyalty to Taiwan, citing as evidence the engraving on the elder Ma's urn.

"If Taiwan were truly Ma's homeland as he claims, then why doesn't the word `Taiwan' appear on his father's urn? Instead, the inscription only mentions building a greater China," Chen said.

Chen said the inscription on Ma Ho-ling's (馬鶴凌) urn said: "Replace independence with gradual unification, strengthen China and work towards unification."

Ma Ying-jeou's camp immediately struck back, calling Chen "malevolent and disrespectful" for using a deceased individual as a political hatchet.

"What Chen did today was completely against the principles of benevolence, honesty and forgiveness that are so deeply rooted in the Taiwanese spirit," said Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Ma Ying-jeou's running mate.

A KMT heavyweight, Ma Ho-ling occupied several high-ranking party positions. He passed away in November 2005.

Ma Ho-ling's intimate connections with the family of former dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) helped fast-track his son's political career.

Chen's comments came in response to the KMT candidate's emotional plea to voters on Saturday, during which he said he loved Taiwan and identified with it.

Ma Ying-jeou also said that although his heritage is Chinese, he is genuinely Taiwanese.

"There is an ancient saying that home is where your loved ones are buried and my beloved father is buried in Taipei City," Ma said.

Chen scoffed at Ma Ying-jeou's remarks, saying he should not woo voters by lying to them.

"If Ma truly identifies with Taiwan, then why doesn't he speak up about Taiwan being his home? How can Taiwan be his homeland if we only see a call for a stronger China and reunification [on the urn]? Is Taiwan his first homeland or his second, third, or fourth?" the president asked.

Ma Ying-jeou, who was born in Hong Kong, did not respond personally to Chen's remarks, but his spokesman Luo Chih-chiang (羅智強), admonished Chen, asking him to remember his role as the nation's chief before making any disrespectful comments in the future.

"We fully respect everyone's freedom of speech and their right to agree or disagree. But apparently Chen has forgotten the fact that when he speaks, he speaks in the capacity of the leader of this country. It is malevolent of him to completely disregard the Taiwanese tradition of showing respect to the dead," Luo said.

Luo said the phrase about unifying with China on the urn signified Ma Ho-ling's belief that Taiwan's future must be one of "gentle development."

Moreover, Luo said that Ma Ying-jeou had been very clear on his stance on the nation's sovereignty, adding that the KMT candidate believes the future of Taiwan must be decided by its 23 million inhabitants.

Ma has always been in favor of maintaining the "status quo," he said, while urging Chen not to manipulate the truth.

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