2012 ELECTIONS: US lawmakers demand poll neutrality

NOT TAKING SIDES::Representative Michael McCaul and Senator Sherrod Brown wrote separate letters saying it was ‘critical’ to refrain from endorsing any candidate

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 - Page 1

There is a growing chorus of protest against perceived efforts by members of US President Barack Obama’s administration to interfere in Taiwanese elections by boosting President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election on Jan. 14.

US Representative Michael McCaul and US Senator Sherrod Brown have now written separate letters to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to maintain neutrality.

The letters come as the White House appears to be approving measures — which include new visa-waiver rules and visits to Taiwan by senior officials — that could be interpreted as an -endorsement for Ma.

It is believed within some Washington political circles that Obama thinks Ma will continue to appease China if he is re-elected and that he would not cause any problems for US policy by trying to strengthen Taiwanese independence.

“We must send a strong signal that the US is committed to seeing that Taiwan’s elections are free, fair and transparent, and that the results are respected by all sides within Taiwan and by all of its neighbors,” McCaul told Clinton.

“In keeping with our own founding principles of freedom and democracy, I urge the administration to refrain from speaking or acting in any way that might be construed as favoring any one candidate over the others,” McCaul said.

McCaul also said that China might attempt to “undermine the integrity of the electoral process in Taiwan — whether by military or other means — or to interfere with the transfer of power after the election if the opposition party is victorious on Jan. 14.”

In his letter, Brown reminded Clinton that it was US policy to strongly support Taiwan’s democracy and the will of the Taiwanese people to choose their own leaders.

“We don’t take any sides,” Brown said. “It is critical that our government continue to refrain from endorsing a particular political candidate or party. I ask you to ensure that our government does not actively or inadvertently influence the outcome of the upcoming Taiwanese elections.”

Bob Yang (楊英育), president of the Formosan Association for -Public Affairs, commented: “We commend these gestures of bipartisan support in the US House and Senate for free, fair and transparent elections in Taiwan.”