Sat, Jan 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: In beef debacle, Su Chi emerges as main villain

FALL GUY The logical candidate to take the fall is Su, but that will depend on Ma's assessment of his utility in an administration already rife with disloyalty

By J. Michael Cole  /  STAFF REPORTER

As an elected official, Ma must take into account his ability to get re-elected in 2012, which compels him to take a somewhat cautious, middle-of-the-road approach to relations with Beijing. Anything more extreme, such as the hastier process favored by Lien, would render Ma unelectable.

There is no doubt, however, that Su, who does not appear to have aspirations for high office, represents a more conservative pressure on Ma through his channeling of deep-blue voices, which could force the president to act less cautiously than he should. The fact that Ma and Su have known each other for a long time — they attended the same high school and came through the China Youth Corps together — also implies that Su wields considerable influence on the president.

Criticizing the Ma administration on Wednesday, DPP spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said that Ma, Su and Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) should step down to shoulder responsibility for the beef controversy.

Rather than aim at several targets at once, however, the DPP would be more likely to score a hit if it focused on one individual.

Given the signs that Yaung, as well as the Department of Health, were kept in the dark on the US beef policy shift, the DPP would waste energy trying to unseat him. The logical candidate to take the fall, then, is Su, whose council bypassed the Department of Health altogether.

Whether Ma yields or not, however, will depend on his assessment of Su’s utility in an administration that is already rife with disloyalty, said June Teufel Dreyer, professor at the University of Miami’s department of political science.

“Su is widely unpopular, but [he is] someone who has been loyal to Ma for a long time. From Ma’s point of view, he has a lot of old-line KMT types around him who aren’t very loyal,” Dreyer said.

“So as Ma weighs whether he’d be better off jettisoning the unpopular Su or keeping him, what do we imagine he is thinking?” she asked.

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