I need to go away for a vacation (post below) more often if President Ma is going to melt down like this. What fun! Some observations, in no particular order:
Let's remember -- this affray is entirely the result of Ma's decisions. Nothing called for him to do anything but make his usual noises about resolving things by the law, the KMT is clean, he is against corruption, etc. He didn't have to go after Wang and spark a political and possibly even constitutional. This crisis is entirely of Ma's making.
The Washington Post reports on Taiwan from...Beijing. An island full of talented and perspicacious writers and observers, and their go-to guy is 3000 kms away. Why not just solicit stories from Moonbase Alpha? Think of the broad scope! Longtime Taiwan specialist John Tkacik pointed out the article's subtle pro-PRC spin in a comment below it:
I detect several pro-China spins in this report, including the subtle assumption that Taiwan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, DPP Legislative Whip Ker and Justice Minister Tseng really are guilty of something. These are political figures that Beijing doesn't trust and would gleefully discredit. And when a Taiwan official tells a WPost reporter calling from Beijing "it's unsafe to talk, we're being monitored," he is probably referring to the Chinese security services' routine monitoring of Foreign Correspondents' telephone calls as much as anything else.The article even terms the feeling of being watched "paranoia" though the piece is about -- what kind of case? Yes, a case in which the government wiretaps were used to discredit the President's perceived political enemies.
Poll plummet: UDN had Ma at 11% approval. As Ma fell to 9% in at least one poll, people were gleefully digging up Ma's words calling for Chen Shui-bian's resignation when Chen hit 18%, or twice as high as where Ma is now. Ma said back in 2006:
「民調掉到18%以下，人民可以把權力拿回來…」and the bolded comment below was widely repeated:
當民意已經不支持你, 你的政治責任沒有辦法再承擔的時候, 你就應該知道自己下台, 不要等人來罷免你。一個人要有羞恥, 人家才會尊重Letters from Taiwan, always good, juxtaposed a poll that said the DPP's Tsai is now more trusted to carry out cross strait policies than Ma, and that Ma was at 9.2%
When the opinion of the people no longer supports you, and when you can no longer shoulder your political responsibilities, you should know that you need to step down. Don't wait until someone impeaches you. A person has to have a sense of shame for the people to respect him. - Ma Ying-jeou, June of 2006
The news report for more than 30 scholars and law professors signing a document saying Ma has crossed a constitutional red line is here. I've placed the text under the READ MORE divider below. Thanks to Ketty Chen for sending it around Facebook. The Constitutionality of Ma's acts is starting to loom; what looked like Ma simply doing something fantastically stupid is slowly blowing up into a constitutional crisis. Civic groups pointed out that by listening to the prosecutor and removing Wang from his position in the legislature, Ma may have committed a constitutional violation.
The Court's reversal of the order expelling Wang from the KMT certainly makes it seem so. That was huge.... (Taipei Times):
The Taipei District Court yesterday ruled in favor of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) provisional injunction seeking to retain his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) membership and position as head of the legislature.The KMT plans to appeal, so stay tuned. FocusTW explains the Court's logic.
The court ruled that Wang would be able to retain his membership and rights as a KMT member after submitting a guarantee of about NT$9.38 million (US$314,300), Taipei District Court spokesperson Lai Chien-yi (賴劍毅) told reporters.
The panel of three judges granted Wang's request on the basis of avoiding "irreparable damages" that the plaintiff would suffer due to a loss of eligibility to serve in the Legislature while waiting for a court to rule on his other lawsuit.Motives? Lots of people are pointing to simple hate. Lee Yuan-tseh, Taiwan's nobel prize-winning physicist, criticized Ma for constantly having his features distorted by hate. Nathan Batto over at the awesome Frozen Garlic has a marvelously informative blog post on the whole affair, well worth reading. He is leery of identifying a motive. All politics may be local in some places, but in East Asian Confucian societies, all politics is personal. I'm with the vendetta believers, though I am sure the politics of the moment, and of the future (particularly Ma's prized cross-strait peace plan) may have played a role. I don't think Ma is playing 11-dimensional chess or is all that impatient with what's going on in the legislature; I think he seized a chance to revenge himself on someone he really just totally hated. Like a sort of inept, out of control Michael Corleone, he's taking revenge on everyone who offended him by opposing him: the jailing of Chen Shui-bian, the investigation of Lee Teng-hui for embezzling (handled by the same prosecutor who went after Wang in this case), the investigation of Su Tseng-chang for his handling of government papers, the attack on Wang, the prosecutions of DPP politicians all over the island, etc etc etc.
The China Times says Ma sacrifices Taiwan's Future by Slaying Wang. The China Times also pointed out that Lin Yi-shih, the Ma associate who was recently given six years for corruption, is still a KMT party member.
Jonathon Manthorpe, longtime observer of things here, has a write-up of events here.
Lighter moment: some delegation went to Washington to complain to people there about Taiwan's Watergate -- illegal wiretapping! Bwahahaha. Don't they read the news? Complaining to Washington about someone engaged in illegal wiretapping is like complaining to the Mafia about what horrors illegal prostitution and gambling are.
- Jamestown Brief piece assesses the DPP's China policy in light of the 2014 elections
- Taiwan military delays volunteer service by two more years.
- NYTimes: Taiwan seeks to revive its banana industry
- Rex How analyzes the reasons Ma wanted a debate with the DPP over the services pact. One tactic the KMT uses is to reduce all conflicts over X to a partisan conflict between the pro-China and pro-Taiwan forces.
- Taiwan looks to poach Malaysian students to offset China brain drain .
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