Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Lin Bribery Mess and the KMT =UPDATED= Lin Confesses

Had a lucky capture on 88 going up to Hsinshe on this lovely, sunny day. 

UPDATE: Lin Confesses

Taiwan Headlines offered a sturdy round up of the commentary on the resignation of Lin Yi-shih from his post as Cabinet Sec-Gen on Friday. On Wednesday, Lin was accused in a Next Magazine investigative piece of taking bribes from a local businessman. By Friday he was gone. TH translated a piece from the pro-KMT United Daily News (UDN) on the context and consequences:
The KMT now only controls three regional legislative seats and a mayoral seat in southern Taiwan, which is traditionally a DPP stronghold.

President Ma recruited Lin to his administrative team after Lin, a four-term lawmaker, lost his bid for re-election in January.

Lin, the scion of an influential political family in Kaohsiung, is seen as one of Ma's proteges, a group that is known as "Ma's Army". Lin became one of the KMT's vice chairmen in 2006 when Ma took over the party's helm for the first time, and Lin once headed the party's youth corps.

During his last legislative term, Lin served as the party's chief legislative whip responsible for policy coordination. He was the youngest person ever to hold that post in the KMT.

Observers said Lin's resignation amid bribery accusations could hurt President Ma's credibility.

In his election campaign in 2008, Ma played up the widespread allegations of corruption against his predecessor Chen Shui-bian. Lin is the first senior official in the Ma administration to be tarnished by corruption charges.
The scandal, which has occupied the news here this week, appears to be the usual sordid influence peddling so common in Taiwan. Several papers have noted that the KMT Administration has been distancing itself from Lin in hope of not being tarred with his brush. The UDN piece ended with a common observation, that Ma has surrounded himself with his own people bent on maintaining position by pleasing him -- Lin was a key member of "Ma's Army", AKA the Ma Troop, in the KMT -- instead of with skilled administrators and politicians. This is a polite way of saying that the Administration has yet to solve the perception that it is out of touch and not very competent.

The China Times piece excerpted by Taiwan Headlines observed that Lin, a major figure in the Red Faction in Kaohsiung, was being groomed as the KMT's K-town mayoral candidate. Now the KMT will have to scramble to find a candidate. The Taipei Times analysis gave a less detailed account but raised the same points: the KMT has suffered a hurt in the key southern municipality of Kaohsiung.

The Taipei Times reported on the questioning of Lin's accuser today:
Chen, head of Ti Yung Co (地勇選礦公司), a metal-recycling company, has accused Lin of accepting a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) to help him secure procurement contracts from China Steel Corp (中鋼) and two of its subsidiaries in 2010, and of asking for a further NT$83 million this year.
Prosecutors said that they had named him as a defendant in the case, based on his deep involvement.

The case is also said to affect President Ma's chances to retain the KMT Party Chairmanship post in the next election for that position. As the Taipei Times noted,
Meanwhile, despite Ma’s trademark emphasis on “clean politics,” government statistics showed that among the 31 cases since November 2007 in which political parties were penalized because their nominees were engaged in vote-buying, the KMT was involved in 26 cases, while the Democratic Progressive Party had three and the People First Party and the Dadao Compassion Jishih Party each had one.

The Election and Recall Act for Public Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) was amended in November 2007 to hold political parties responsible if candidates endorsed by them are found to be engaged in campaign irregularities.

The KMT has been fined NT$16 million (US$535,000) for the 26 campaign irregularities.
Most of the vote-buying incidents involving KMT candidates — with a few exceptions such as the case involving former KMT legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福) in December 2007 — have occurred after Ma was sworn in as the party chairman in October 2008.
However, my own view is that the public is used to vote-buying cases, especially KMT voters, and simply don't care. It will take a lot more than this to put a dent in Ma's image, especially at this point when his satisfaction scores are already so low.

FOLLOW ON TO PREVIOUS POST ON BEEF: The China Post writes that Ma Hisownself is overseeing further progress on ECFA, offering that as compensation for the Administration's failures to produce any Free Trade Agreements with Taiwan. Buried in that piece is an interesting paragraph quoting the President:
Ma said that if the beef issue is not resolved, it will be “very difficult” for Taiwan to resume Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks with the U.S. or to join the TPP, a Pacific Rim free trade pact, within eight years, which is his administration's goal.
See the purpose of the ractobeef issue? It appears to be to keep Taiwan out of US-led trade groups in the Pacific. If Taiwan doesn't permit ractobeef in, it can't join any of those US-led trade initiatives and will have to move into China's orbit enlarge ECFA. Or whatever. Looking forward to much handwringing and crocodile-tear flowing from the KMT Administration in the coming four years. Meanwhile, the DPP's inflexible stance means that it is actually furthering this goal. Time for the DPP to moderate its stance and talk-talk with US officials on circumventing the KMT's apparent policy of isolating Taiwan.
Daily Links:
  • Rectified name on the Cheng Kingdom in Taiwan. What a shame Andrade didn't take the deal, then translate the areas where he was censored and post to the internet so people could update their copy once they had it. Take the money, Tonio!
  • Taiwan angler with a great post on catching Red Drum.
  • Jay Nordlinger's Taiwan Journal is now done. The last installment is here and has links to previous. It appears that Nordlinger spent most of the trip in Chinatown Deep Blue Taipei. Next time come down to Taichung, Jay, and I'll show you Taiwan. 
  • Taiwan coal burning plants seeking to buy coal now while the price is low.
  • Family of future Chinese leader Xi Jinping has cashed in big, says Bloomberg in report blocked in China. Good work, folks at Bloomberg.
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! Delenda est, baby.


Tim Maddog said...

How could black gold (黑金) be "tarnished"—as both the CNA report you quote above and a Taipei Times article I read this morning would have us believe?

Tim Maddog

Readin said...

The National Review article could have been better, but it was better than what previous experience had taught me to expect from their writings on Taiwan. Before Nordingler's travel log they hardly acknowledged the Pan-Green POV existed. Nordlingler didn't give them fair time but at least he did give them time.

Marc said...

Lin confesses. International coverage.

Taiwan Echo said...

"Taiwan Headlines offered a sturdy round up of the commentary"

The webpage has been removed.

Anonymous said...

Michael, the onus is on the US on the beef issue here. In trade talks for the South Korea FTA, beef was part of *FTA* negotiations, not a precondition.

It is in the US's best interests to not let beef, which makes up less than 1% of US-Taiwan trade, get in the way of furthering the US-Taiwan alliance that has served both partners well for over half a century. I would say somehow, someone on the *US* side is trying to torpedo the US-Taiwan relationship over something that is actually quite trivial and *has a solution*. Negotiate an FTA with Taiwan and the beef problem will be properly aired and discussed and resolved under normal channels.

The US just trying to strong-arm Taiwan on beef hurts the public image of the US in Taiwan quite deeply--the DPP is really responding to domestic concerns here and Taiwan is a democracy--there's no just telling the DPP to change their position and magically Taiwan just accepting it.

Michael Turton said...

Anon, I quite agree that the onus is on the US. Said that many times -- the US is the morally wrong party here. But in the real world that doesn't count for much, and the US clearly does not care whether it is right or wrong. Moreover, those retrograde elements in the US are cooperating with the Ma Administration. At present, there is no other conclusion -- the DPP position is playing into the hands of the anti-Taiwan crowd....

Taiwan Echo said...

1. Among the criticism, from the US side, on the anti-ractopamine-beef movement in Taiwan, the DPP has been wrongly singled out as the one to blame, while not only the majority anti-ractopamine came from and led by the the public (including dozen of NGOs), but also other opposite parties (including the blue PFP) are involved.

2. The DPP is a party for Taiwanese people. Yes, the role of the USA is critical to Taiwan and to the DPP. But when there's a conflict of interests between Taiwanese people and the American interest, the DPP has to answer to her people first. Not to mention that the USA just ditched the chance of supporting the DPP's candidate for the president not long ago.

Taiwan Echo said...

anon: "It is in the US's best interests to not let beef, which makes up less than 1% of US-Taiwan trade, get in the way of furthering the US-Taiwan alliance that has served both partners well for over half a century. I would say somehow, someone on the *US* side is trying to torpedo the US-Taiwan relationship ..."

Well said. I am not sure about the torpedo thing, but I worry that the US might be considering the inevitability of Taiwan being absorbed to China. If that does happen, the US won't have any chance to make any contracts with Taiwan. So they would try to establish a contract to squeeze benefits from Taiwan as much as possible before they lose grip.

I also believe that the ractopamine-beef is not US's real goal. Instead, the ractopamine-pork is:

1. In Taiwan, the port is the main meat source, but the beef is sill a luxury.

2. Taiwan's port consumption is 10x of that of beef.

3. After accepting the ractopamine-beef, Taiwan will have no ground to ban the import of the ractopamine-pork. That's where the real benefits is.