Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元), who served as campaign director for KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文), sparked an uproar yesterday with his first public appearance since the Nov. 29 elections, saying that he knew it would take a “miracle” for Lien to win and that the top echelons of the KMT had asked the candidate to refrain from bashing Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團).
Tsai posted an article on Facebook at about midnight on Tuesday — coinciding with the publication of the latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine, where he also shared “insider” information.
On both platforms, Tsai said that he became Lien’s campaign director on Aug. 1 and — when visiting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) on Aug. 7 — read an election analysis report provided by Wang after which he concluded: “Unless a miracle occurred, it would be impossible for Lien to win the election.”
He was “a warrior who had no right to choose his battlefield and could only charge forward without reservation,” Tsai wrote on Facebook.
He listed a dozen reasons Lien had failed. The primary reason was the “negative campaign of class struggle” by then-independent candidate Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲), during which Lien’s rival “incited a large group of young people to ‘envy and hate’ Lien’s family background and wealth.”
Two major food scandals in a year and policy failures — such as a cut to the benefits received by retired military personnel, public school teachers and civil servants and the implementation of 12-year national education program — had “uprooted the chance of victory for Lien,” Tsai added.
He also called the political feud between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Wang “stupid.”
“Wang’s report found the cause of the disease, but no medicine was prescribed,” Tsai said. “Good medicine tastes bitter. A drug that might have been effective was not acceptable to some.”
The “effective medicine” was apparently in reference to the castigation of Ting Hsin that Tsai had wanted Lien to undertake during the campaign.
Ting Hsin is the food manufacturing giant that triggered public anger earlier this fall for its involvement in repeated adulterated cooking oil scandals, prompting calls from netizens and civic groups for a boycott on the conglomerate’s goods and services.
Amid the then-snowballing cooking oil scandal surrounding the business group, the KMT filed a lawsuit against an individual who alleged that during his re-election campaign in 2012, Ma received a political donation of NT$1 billion (US$32.8 million at current exchange rates) from the Wei (魏) family, Ting Hsin’s owners.
According to the Next Magazine report, which cited Tsai, Lien blocked a plan characterized as “the extermination of Ting Hsin,” because KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) told him that KMT Deputy Secretary-General Lin Teh-jui (林德瑞) had called and asked Lien not to single out Ting Hsin when talking about food safety issues.
Tsai alleged that since Lin could not have made such a decision by himself, it was probably Ma or National Security Council Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), Ma’s confidant, who was pulling the strings, according to the magazine.
However, Tsai told reporters at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday — where he showed up for the Finance Committee meeting — that the magazine exaggerated his stance.
“I did not [name Ma or King]; I do not have proof for that,” he said, adding that it was the reporter who asked him whether it might have been the duo.
However, the legislator said that just days after Lin asked the team to suspend the plan to target Ting Hsin, “the Presidential Office itself fired away at the corporation.”
“I call Lien a lonely fighter who got abandoned on the battlefield,” Tsai said.
Later yesterday, KMT Culture and Communication Committee director Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) denied the report, saying that the party did not dictate how Lien responded to the cooking oil scandal involving Ting Hsin International Group.
According to Fan Chiang, Lin called Lee once to discuss the food safety issue, as Tsai said in the report, but the conversation was about Lin expressing his concerns about the impact of the food safety scandal on the election.
Lin said he made the call to Lee in his personal capacity, as opposed to being asked to do so by any upper-echelon officials, and what he said to Lee — which he said contained no mention of Ting Hsin — reflected only his personal views.
Lee also denied the report, saying that Lien’s campaign office had set its position on the issue before he got the telephone call from Lin.
The Presidential Office said that neither Ma nor King gave any directive to the party or Lien’s campaign office regarding the case.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
PEACE AND STABILITY: ‘Taiwan can be of tremendous value’ in building resilient supply chains, President Tsai Ing-wen said, as she encouraged closer ties with foreign businesses A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely for the time being due to the internal challenges and international pressure that China is facing, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the New York Times in an interview shown on Wednesday. “My thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them [China] to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,” Tsai said in a prerecorded interview for the DealBook Summit held by the newspaper on Wednesday. Beijing’s leadership is presently “overwhelmed by its internal challenges” on economic, financial and political grounds, while the international community “has made it loud and clear that war is
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,