Sun, Feb 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Ma must keep eye on public opinion: legislator

Amid controversy over President Ma Ying-jeou’s bid for re-election as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei, who has been a vocal critic of the opposition camp as well as her own party, called on Ma to step down from his chairmanship post for the sake of himself and the party in a recent interview with reporter Tzou Jiing-wen of the Chinese-language ‘Liberty Times’ (sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’)

LT: What do you think of the KMT headquarters’ argument that Ma not doubling as the party chairman would make the situation more chaotic?

Lo: On what facts is such an illogical argument based? A more rational assumption would be that Ma only insists on seeking re-election because he wants to continue holding control over the party’s assets, using them to manipulate KMT legislators and party members.

I don’t see all KMT lawmakers acting at his beck and call, despite Ma’s heading the party now.

LT: Ma reportedly cited the US Constitution and Democratic Progressive Party charter as basis for his argument that a term as chairmanship is only counted when the elected person has served more than half of the full tenure. Do you think that is an appropriate approach?

Lo: If Ma had more guts, he should have just said: “Yes, I want to continue serving as KMT chairman,” and that there is something wrong with the current party charter and it should be fixed.

As a chairman of the ruling party and head of the state, Ma should adopt stricter standards than [leaders of] civil organizations in abiding by the laws. Currently, both the Constitution and the Local Government Act (地方制度法) stipulate that [leaders of civil organizations and political parties] can only be re-elected once.

The spirit of these laws is to prevent a post-holder from playing a dominant role in a civil organization for too long and becoming somewhat of a “leader for life.” If even such a far-fetched argument would help people get past the laws, does it mean those who wish to seek a second re-election can gain legitimacy to do so simply by resigning before their current tenures expire?

While there is a gray area in these regulations, Ma should nevertheless give serious thought to his conduct to quiet skeptical voices.

LT: You mentioned the issue of KMT assets, but has Ma not boasted in the past of his self-proclaimed integrity and rectitude?

Lo: Although the KMT has substantial assets, they are merely unattainable to most grassroots members, because only those at the party’s power center have real access to such resources.

When I spoke about Ma seeking to control the party’s assets, I was not referring to the criticism that these assets are the root cause of an uneven playing ground for political parties by offering more campaign funding to KMT candidates.

In fact, these contentious assets have proven to be more of a burden than a blessing for most party members, who, despite having not enjoyed a bit of these resources, are frequently accused of buying votes with money from the assets.

What I mentioned earlier is merely speculation that the party’s leader [Ma] hopes to administer these assets in a bid to decide who gets to enjoy them, twist the fingers of some lawmakers or draw high-profile individuals into his camp for elections. I could not think of any other reason why Ma would want to be re-elected as KMT chairman.

LT: You oppose the idea of Ma serving concurrently as KMT chairman, but what do you propose is the best operational model for the governing party?

Lo: While the KMT still has the Central Standing Committee as its highest policymaking body, the committee’s functions are hugely different from what they were during the periods of former leaders Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), his son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

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