When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the 31st US president, Herbert Hoover, did not know what to do. In the next election, the public roundly rejected Hoover in favor of then-New York governor Franklin Roosevelt and his “New Deal.” However, Hoover abused the constitutional amendment procedure during the period leading up to the transfer of power in an attempt to restrict Roosevelt’s room for maneuver once in office.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is in many ways a carbon copy of Hoover. Before leaving office, he busied himself setting traps for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), attempting to tie down her incoming administration.
On Friday, the nation breathed a sigh of relief as the transition period ended. Taiwan can now bid goodbye to the last of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) party-state nobility and welcome a new government.
Before stepping down, Ma joined forces with China to try and force the new administration to accept the entirely fictitious “1992 consensus.”
As the faithful echo of his masters in Beijing, Ma engaged in a string of anti-US and anti-Japanese shenanigans during the tail-end of his presidency. Along with the Ministry of Culture, he selected eight documents to be listed as Taiwan’s “national treasures.” Their theme centers on Taiwan’s supposed links to China and the Chinese resistance against Japan, with documents such as the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.
Ma’s selections have once again revealed the man’s uncanny ability to make a complete fool out of himself.
Of these “national treasures,” the most glaring omissions are four documents previously hyped by Ma: The Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, the Treaty of Taipei and, of course, the illusory “1992 consensus.”
It is not that the documents do not exist — with the exception of the fabricated “1992 consensus” — it is that they really do not stand up to public scrutiny. The Cairo Declaration was just a press release announcing the outcome of talks between three world leaders, and in Chongqing, China’s wartime capital, there were just two telegrams from the ROC envoy to Egypt, Tang Wu (湯武), and its ambassador to the US, Wei Tao-ming (魏道明), referring to the declaration.
As for the Potsdam Declaration, China did not take part in the conference and only agreed at the last minute for its name to be added to the declaration.
The Treaty of Taipei only stipulated that Japan should renounce all right, title and claim to Taiwan and Penghu — an inconvenient truth that the KMT would rather keep under wraps.
Bringing out Japan’s surrender documents to brag about them is a classic example of Chinese parties’ — the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party — fondness for “spiritual victory” and it demonstrates their pathological shared hatred of Japan.
The inclusion of the Constitution among Ma’s collection is a deluded attempt to construct a link between China and Taiwan. The 1931 ROC Political Tutelage Period Act (中華民國訓政時期約法) — also included in the selection — cites all the provinces of China in addition to Mongolia and Tibet as the sovereign territory of China.
However, there is a problem: Neither the act nor the May 5, 1936, draft Constitution — which lists the provinces of China — makes any mention of Taiwan.
May 20 heralded the end of an ineffectual, immature administration. Ma has resigned himself to believing that the public will eventually look back on his presidency with fondness, yet it is far more likely that Taiwanese will remember Ma in the same way Americans remember Hoover: A loser.
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Edward Jones
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