Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Foreign media as local tool

A poster at Forumosa put up a piece from the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong paper, that shows bias at work in the international media.
Mr Clean' seen as too indecisive and soft for the top job
By Lawrence Chung in Taipei

The chairman of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang, Ma Ying-jeou, has surprisingly seen his political clout diminish since he succeeded Lien Chan as KMT head in August last year.

Dubbed Mr Clean, the charismatic Mr Ma, seen as the opposition's best chance for the 2008 presidential polls, was once the most popular politician in Taiwan. But since becoming KMT chairman, his approval ratings have slipped from a high of 80 per cent in December last year to a low of 58 per cent last month, according to a series of opinion polls conducted by the TVBS cable news network.

Analysts said his Mr Clean image and soft personality - which helped him stand out from political peers and rivals - have ironically become his Achilles' heel.

More and more supporters of the opposition pan-blue camp, made up of the KMT and the People First Party (PFP), now doubt his ability to lead the island, analysts said.

"His performance in the recall motion and recent anti-graft campaign disappointed many supporters, who now think Mr Ma, 55, is not a decisive and effective administrator," said Soochow University political science professor Emile Sheng Chih-jen.

Mr Ma hesitated to support a recall motion seeking to unseat the island's scandal-plagued president, Chen Shui-bian, when it was initiated by opposition lawmakers earlier this year.

Despite strong calls from within his party for him to support the motion, Mr Ma, who doubles as Taipei mayor, insisted there was no need for the KMT to force the issue before there was public consensus backing Mr Chen's removal from office.

Mr Ma finally gave KMT lawmakers a go-ahead to initiate the motion after sharp criticism of his lack of decisiveness.

When the former chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Shih Ming-teh, kicked off a series of sit-in protests last month to pressure Mr Chen to resign, Mr Ma was hesitant in approving applications for the use of protest venues and march routes. He finally conceded, again because of mounting criticism from pan-blue supporters.

"Right from the start, Ma Ying-jeou has not actually taken part in the anti-Chen campaign. He is such a soft and procrastinating person, thinking he needs only to sit back and relax, waiting for the presidential post to fall into his hands in 2008," said 35-year-old architect Ben Chang, who was once a staunch supporter of Mr Ma. "What kind of a politician is he?"

Analysts said Mr Ma, a former justice minister, was a law-abiding person but a bit too square to be a capable opposition leader - a job that required wisdom, decisiveness, craftiness and a calculating personality.

"Ma Ying-jeou has to adjust to meet those demands if he wants to campaign for the presidency in 2008," said political commentator Hu Chung-hsin.

Spot the problem that sheds light on the whole political stance of the piece? It's here:

"His performance in the recall motion and recent anti-graft campaign disappointed many supporters, who now think Mr Ma, 55, is not a decisive and effective administrator," said Soochow University political science professor Emile Sheng Chih-jen.

I know some of you out there are scratching your heads because Emile Sheng seems familiar to you. That's because Emile Sheng is the international spokesman for the Anti-Chen campaign. The article cites him without informing the reader that he is involved in the events he's commenting on -- that his boss Shih Ming-teh, the boss of the campaign, has been the source of withering attacks on Ma.

The question to ask is: who benefits? Obviously, two people in the Blues benefit by attacks on Ma -- mainlander James Soong, Ma's great rival outside the KMT, head of the People First Party (PFP) and perhaps candidate for Taipei mayor long known to lust after the Presidency, and Wang Jin-pyng, the dapper Taiwanese KMT Machine politician who is currently speaker of the legislature. Is it a coincidence that sitting at the right hand of Shih Ming-teh on a number of occasions throughout the faux protests has been none other than Soong? This stinks of a pro-Soong hit piece.

Imagine: the KMT and PFP strike a deal. Ma's rep is faltering -- quite true, his approval ratings have been in a long-term slide for months now. Shih Ming-teh has been constantly attacking him for being weak and indecisive, and even the pro-Blue media has little to shout about when it comes to Ma's accomplishments for Taipei. James Soong runs for Taipei mayor, keeping his name in the news, against the KMT's Hau and the DPP's Frank Hsieh. At the last minute Soong pulls out, ordering his followers to vote for Hau, just as Wang Chien-hsuan, the New Party candidate, did in the 1998 Taipei mayor election. In exchange, the KMT sacrifices Ma, and puts Soong in the Presidential slot on the next ticket.

Hey, Soong can dream? But here the groundwork is being laid for more attacks on Ma. The KMT is divided by the struggle between the Machine politicians like Wang on one side, and the pro-China ideologues like Ma on the other. Will Ma get his feet cut out from under him by his own people? The future looks very interesting.

8 comments:

Patrick Cowsill said...

Soong for president on the KMT ticket? I doubt that's going to happen. But it's an interesting idea. Running for mayor seemed like Soong's last stab at making a political comeback just a few months ago. I was watching the news today. Soong was right in the middle of Double Ten Day scuffle, pushing, hitting, gauging and having fun. It seems unlikely that he will go away now.
By the way, I was talking to a KMT-supporting friend and she's seething. She believes Shih Ming-teh's recent criticisms of Ma were all part of Lee Tung-hui's master plan to bring down Taipei's mayor. She previously attended "Depose" sit-ins but she won't return because criticizing Ma for anything "is going too far" and because Shih and Lee are in cahoots.

Michael Turton said...

Always, people are looking for that black hand, that mover behind events. Someone suggested Shih is actually working for the DPP, now he is archfiend Lee Teng-hui's tool.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Ma Ying-jeou as Mr. Clean?

Ouch.

What has this Lawrence Chung been smoking?

--domesticopinions

TaiwanIndependence said...

Are you implying that Soong is inadvertently fighting for the Pan Greens yet again? That man is either a genius or a doofus. My jury is still out on which.

I also don't get where these supposed analysts are from, considering Ma has quite a history himself, and was recently proven corrupt like the others.

Anonymous said...

The whole article is a pan-blue rah rah article and conveniently sidesteps the question of whether there is any legal basis for demanding Chen to step down. Ma always tip toes the line tryting please everyone. At first he appeared moderate on the issue, which many folks gave him credit for but which irked the deep blue. Then when the deep blue squeezed his LP he back-tracked in a big way - losing credibilty with the moderate voters but not recovering much, if any, from the deep blue. As they say, "I don't what the recipe for success, but I know the recipe for failure: Try to please everybody". But not to worry, he'll still be the KMT's man for 2008 - and who from the DPP or other party can realistically compete with him??

Michael Turton said...

Are you implying that Soong is inadvertently fighting for the Pan Greens yet again? That man is either a genius or a doofus. My jury is still out on which.

He's a brilliant populist, so the answer is "both."

But not to worry, he'll still be the KMT's man for 2008 - and who from the DPP or other party can realistically compete with him??

Don't worry. Su will beat him.

Michael

Chewycorns said...

Su will beat him? hahahahhahaha. I think you've been smoking up with Lawrence Chung, Michael. With the corruption scandals, the DPP has turned off a lot of mainstream voters. It has to return to its base and I don't think another snooth-talking lawyer is the way to go. I think Yu Shyi-kun is a much better choice. He is dark green, was born in poverty, and, most importantly has the mental toughness for the role. I don't think Su's policies to "maximize liberalization of cross-strait exchanges" will not go over well in the dark green camp. I think a Yu Shyi-kun/Yang Tzu-pao vs. Soong/Ma matchup would be very interesting indeed.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, Chewycorns, be nice. I think Michael meant that even Su would a much better choice than Ma, which is indeed true in every aspect. I prefer Yu as well, even though I believe he would need to catch up on the presentation part. Still, that does not change the fact that even a lousy DPP candidate is a zillion times more appropriate than the very best of KMT.

--domesticopinions