Saturday, September 05, 2009

Rehabilitating Ma Ying-jeou??

One thing that struck me about both the awful Economist piece on the Dalai Lama I explored in the post below this one, and the equally execrable TIME magazine viewpoint on the Dalai Lama's visit, is the theme of Ma the Brave that appears in both. The Economist stated:
Mr Ma was well aware that he was taking a risk when he decided on August 27th to approve the Dalai Lama’s request to visit the island.
Similarly, the TIME writer said:
Ma took a gamble. He approved the trip — and bet on China's leaders appreciating his dilemma. They did: their censure was directed solely at the DPP with no mention of Ma whatsoever.
A body of literature is defined by the way it uses and subverts convention -- like the ancient Greek historical fictions filled with innocents going to their execution willingly, or modern horror movies with their virgins who are never slain. Like any good literature, the Establishment media is marked by its conventions, one of which is the Leader Who Makes Bold decisions. It makes for good narrative. But is it for real? Max Hirsch of Kyodo reports (behind paywall):
The Friends of Tibet, an India-based advocacy group with an office in Taipei, accused Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou of bowing to the wishes of Beijing and paring down the Dalai Lama's itinerary during his Sunday-Friday visit to the island.

''First it was the press conference that was canceled, then the public speech was downsized,'' the group's director Chow Meili said in a phone interview, referring to the Dalai Lama's engagements on Monday and Tuesday.

''It could not be clearer that the Ma administration is taking orders from the Chinese Communists,'' added Chow, whose husband, Khedroob Thondup, serves as a parliamentarian of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile headed by the Dalai Lama, Khedroob's uncle.

Last week, opposition leaders in the south invited the Dalai Lama to console the victims of Typhoon Morakot, which lashed the island's south with heavy rains from Aug. 7-9. Floods and mudslides killed more than 600 people, with damage to property and crops estimated at roughly US$1.5 billion.

Risking the ire of China, Ma, of the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT), approved the invitation, and the Dalai Lama arrived in Taiwan on Sunday night.

The Ma administration sent KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung to Beijing last week to soothe frayed nerves in a secret meeting with Chinese officials, Chow said.

Lee, she said, agreed to three conditions raised by the Chinese government in ''a horse trade'' conducted on behalf of Ma -- namely, that no KMT political heavyweights meet the Dalai Lama, and that the spiritual leader be barred from holding press conferences and from giving public speeches.

In return, Beijing would refrain from mentioning Ma, his administration and the KMT in criticizing the visit, she added.
In passing note the connections -- the Dalai Lama's nephew is married to an important aide of Lee Teng-hui (nephew's talk last year).

In other words, as we know, the CCP and the KMT have been in regular communication for several years now. Not only do we have the assertions of the Dalai Lama's people and of LTH's entourage that the KMT and the CCP were talking, but we also have the word of Premier Liu himself that they were, as reported on Sept 2:
[Premier] Liu would not comment on the nature of the communication that had occurred between Taiwan and China on the visit by the Dalai Lama, saying that he “was not involved” but was “aware of the process.”

“We had some information and made some impact assessments … But to say more about this would do no good,” Liu said.
Apparently, the writers for TIME and The Economist either do not know this -- in which case they lack the knowledge necessary to write on this topic -- or else they chose to sex up Ma's behavior to make him look stronger by ignoring the communication lines between the two Chinese parties. The reality, in other words, is that the risk was only apparent -- the deal was already made and the fix was in.

It is hard to tell whether this is simply writers engaging in conventional modes of presentation, or whether the media is returning, like robots equipped with only one solution for all problems, to its posture of admiration for Ma Ying-jeou, in an attempt to rehabilitate his image after the international media here in Taiwan widely publicized the incompetence and indifference of his administration's response to the typhoon, and his own seeming narcissism.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

Why is it that the Dali Lama needs approval from the President to visit Taiwan and why can the Dali Lama's schedule be dictated by the government?

Masalu said...

Why is Pres. Ma barred from visiting the White House and Capitol and strictly prohibited
from making a press conference in the 'Land of the Free'?

vin said...


Your analogy between the Dalai Lama's case and President Ma's, while potentially having some merit, falls completely flat when you fail to state and deal with the fact that the Dalai Lama, unlike Ma, is foremost a religious leader.

Your question is a fine case of what I once found dismaying about so many Chinese (Taiwanese) arguments but now find simply laughable: promiscuous, emotion-driven analogizing with no pause to make sure the parallels drawn are apt. It strikes me as derelict -- as a serious default on human ability and possibility.

I'm sure you're capable of better if you would only stop and think twice.

Masalu said...

vin , now after your torrential fireworks please give an honest answer :)

vin said...


You mean your question (inaccuracies aside) is not rhetorical? Sorry, but given that information on this stuff is so widely available on the Net, I think you should take responsibility and do your own reading rather than ask me to fill you in -- and think twice about all information you find. I'm sure you'll then find that your implied analogy is defective.

Masalu said...


After your very fiery temper tantrum display here it's sad that you still have no guts to answer a very simple question:)

Why is the 'Land of the Brave' so. so, so very afraid to welcome Pres. Ma to the White House?

Please enlighten us !:)

Masalu said...

Some Americans are like their Uncle Sam . Washington would shout for human rights, freedom, democracy and then proudly lecture others.

Then when asked some simple questions why a democratically elected President is persona non grata in Washington they go hysterical .:)

Luckily not all Americans are like that, proud and superior sometimes to the point of being arrogant. :)

Atoq said...

hey vin , masalu is asking a fair and honest question and i don't find any inaccuracies in them.
why can't you just simply answer? do you always have to think twice ?

Masalu said...

"His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people."


His Holiness the Dalai Lama

To make someone happy I have to repeat 'head of state' captions twice twice :)

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in essence the King and also the Pope of Tibet .

His unique Dual Supremo role sometimes makes some people confused and makes them think twice forever.

Is the Head of State of Tibet coming to Taiwan? Then the second thinking comes in... No it is the Pope (Spiritual Leader) of Tibet who is going to Ciaolin!

Well I guess the government of Taiwan did the right thing in welcoming the Head of State of Tibet which sadly the government of the 'Land of the Free and the (very) Brave ( and very proud)' was too afraid to accord both Pres. Chen and Pres. Ma in their now very famous but funny 'leash and gag' "tiptoe" transits in America.

readin said...

I'm speculating a bit, but I believe the answer is:
When Ma or another president of Taiwan visits the U.S., a visa is required. As head of the executive branch I assume that the U.S. President has the ability to forbid the visa from being granted. He is able to use this veto power to negotiate the terms of the visit prior to the arrival of president Ma.

As for why the U.S. President chooses to bar Ma from holding a press conference, I have to assume it is because he wants all Americans to be shamed and filled with self-hate. Well, I probably not really, but it sure feels that way. I suspect the real answer has more to do with the U.S. not being able to control spending and having become reliant on the cheap goods and cheap loans China provides, as well as the U.S. and S. Korea's inability to handle N. Korean threats.

vin said...

Masalu and Atoq:

I certainly support your view that the U.S. defames itself by not allowing Taiwan’s presidents to visit, but that doesn’t change that you’re equating a two-hat guy’s (spiritual leader + head of state) case with a one-hat guy’s (head of state only) case. Or that you’ve not only made this bad analogy, Masalu, but have insisted on its aptness and relevance. No amount of honesty on my part can repair this dishonesty.

I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that I’m hysterical; people insisting on illogic brings me closer to yawning than to getting upset. Far be it from me, of course, to say you are projecting, though!

If you guys want to insist on a bad analogy, then maybe we should just move past it. I mean, it seems we all agree that the US should be letting Taiwan’s presidents visit the White House, hold press conferences, etc. (though I do hope you did or will do your reading and will discover that no US laws forbid these options). I’m happy to agree with you that the US is doing nothing good whenever it toadies to the Chinese government’s childish, pre-modern efforts against other people’s self-determination.

Masalu said...

vin, whether the Dalai Lama has 2 or 5 hats isn't the point . (Mullah Mohammed Omar also have 2 hats :)) As readin said the head of state of a country ( ex. Taiwan and USA) has the veto power whether to give a visa to a Mullah, Ayatollah, Gay Priest , President of Iran etc.

My comments were directed at the question of Anonymous rather than your honest opinion which you are rightly entitled to believe as I am to mine.

Whether your posts reveals a hysterical personality or not well we just leave it to the folks here to decide.

However many would be cautious when dealing with a person who is not only King, but also a Pope who once walks with Mao, the CIA , and Shoko Asahara.

I'm sure even Dorje Shugden will agree :)

Maybe we can have some beer sometimes :)

Masalu said...

Mullah Mohammed Omar and the Dalai Lama both have 2 Hats.

Does it mean that these two VIP's should be accorded more importance and are assumed holier than those with only 1 hat like Pres. Obama and Pres. Ma? :)

Sean Su said...

This should be preventable, especially with TIME magazine. I will be writing you an email, Michael.

Masalu said...

Why is it that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and even Oprah needs approval from the Peoples Republic of China to visit Taiwan?

vin said...


If readin is OK with your changing his argument to suit your purposes, then I'm OK with it, too. It's not my remit.

No, you weren't just directing a question at Anonymous. Your subsequent focus on the Dalai Lama proves that you intended a ridiculous analogy.

And the Dalai Lama with Mullah Omar? That alone merits a firm no to having a beer together. I leave it to you to figure out why.

And that's too bad, because I would love to hear more about the Dorje Shugden stuff from someone with no agenda grounded in the degeneracy of nationalism. That DS stuff disturbs me, and I could be persuaded either way on it.

Not by a sold-out, agenda-pushing nationalist, though. Not by a passive-aggressive who on the one hand dishes out "hysterical" and on the other hand adds a bunch of smile-signs and invites me for a beer.

Do you guys have a playbook? If A doesn't work, try B; if B doesn't work, shift to C? Sorry to break the news to you but this is why China won't rise very far so long as people like you are at work: too many people already see through this shifting-argument crap and the numbers will only grow.

Why are you undermining your country and your people? So many Chinese are so much more honest than you've been here, and they deserve much better than the representation you've given them here.

I suggest that you buy a beer for Atop instead, and that you guys put your heads together in an effort to figure out why you failed here.

Masalu said...


Sorry I didn't notice you posted ahead of Anonymous :)

In this era where one-sided American propaganda is over both the Dalai and Omar are Saints to their avid followers and who are we to judge?

Do you consider the poor GI's who died in Nam war heroes or invaders?

I'm just curious why vin is so bloody sure that I, Masalu, is Chinese/Taiwanese?

Anyways my offer of a very cold beer still stands after all I'm not Omar and you're certainly not the Dalai:)

Or are you?

Masalu said...

When will Obama the Brave invite Ma to the White House?

Masalu said...

If Obama the Brave will not welcome a democratically elected Taiwan President to the White House then it could not be clearer that the Obama administration is taking orders from the Chinese Communists.