Tue, Dec 02, 2014 - Page 3 News List

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Academics who hunger to enter politics take heed

By Tseng Wei-Chen 曾韋禎

The inability of outgoing Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) to remain true to his academic profession after entering politics and becoming embroiled in allegedly unconstitutional political fiascoes should serve as a warning to all other academics who wish to become politicians, critics said.

Since his first appearance in government in 2008 as minster of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, Jiang — formerly a National Taiwan University (NTU) professor of political science — has since seen a meteoric rise in his political career, advancing from the post of interior minister to the post of vice premier before being promoted to the premiership in February last year.

However, less than half a year after assuming the position of premier, his involvement in the “September strife” — when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) accused Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of illegally trying to influence the judiciary and tried to revoke his KMT membership and invalidate his status as a KMT legislator-at-large and as legislative speaker — and his Cabinet’s less-than-satisfactory handling of the series of food safety scandals that hit the nation his political career has rapidly entered a downward spiral.

During his tenure as interior minister, Jiang, 54, enjoyed an above average reputation due to his quick wit that he often used when parrying legislators’ questions.

It is unfortunate that Jiang’s tendency to make calculated decisions based on political situations came to a head after he assumed the post as premier.

His involvement in the Ma-Wang showdown in September of last year brought his popularity to an all-time low. A poll conducted by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research in October last year showed that 50.3 percent of those polled considered Jiang’s remark that Wang’s role as speaker might have been affected by allegations of improper lobbying constituted remarks that violated the spirit of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the decision made this January by the Executive Yuan to appeal an amendment to the Land Administration Agent Act (地政士法) that resulted in the forced resignation of then-interior minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), and his actions and speech during the Sunflower movement have also led to widespread discontent from members of the public.

Jiang was panned for his alleged involvement in sending in police to forcibly clear out students attempting to occupy the Executive Yuan on March 24.

His actions during the student movement were perceived by many of his former students as being in direct contrast with what he taught in class, which then led to a wave of protests NTU political science students.

The lack of effective barriers which led to the nation’s multiple food safety scandals, as well as the lack of punitive measures for companies and governmental officials responsible, demonstrated that Jiang was “out of sync” with reality and laid the foundation for the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) landslide defeat on Saturday.

Furthermore, his irresponsible promises to spend a total of NT$300 billion (US$9.6 billion) on the construction of new infrastructure in the run up to Saturday’s elections also failed to inspire the trust of the people, especially after the public witnessed how Ma’s previous “6-3-3” campaign pledges flopped.

Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer

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