Saturday, October 05, 2013

MaWangMess: Weeklong Blowback Edition

Hengchun gate.

What a week for President Ma "Blowback" Ying-jeou. It opened on Monday with the KMT losing its second court case. The High Court affirmed the district court's decision to reinstate Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng in the Party and in his position. The KMT then declared it would appeal to the Supremes. No matter how well Wang sings "Where did our love go?"  I have some trouble believing that Wang will win there.

I was saying last night how for years I was reading how totally out of touch Ma was said to be but never really believed it. But now... I believe. The revelations of dubiously legal wiretapping, the complete lack of political sense in attacking Wang the declarations of guilt without trial or evidence... surely someone could have foreseen this? Could everyone be so out of touch? I had always thought that even though Ma had been groomed for this position as head of KMT, President, and bearer of its return-to-ZionChina torch, that he had a modicum of flexibility and good political sense, or at least his handlers did --that POV was seriously shaken by his narcissistic behavior during the Morakot disaster three years ago. But looking at his take-no-prisoners, with-me-or-against-me position, I'm seriously wondering if his rise is due in part to his simply being more rigid, more inflexible Chinese bargainer* than everyone else.

And the week ended with the President called to testify. Yes, the Taipei District prosecutors office opened a case against Prosecutor-General Huang for leaking details of the investigation of Wang's alleged influence-peddling. They are processing all the testimony now:
The district prosecutors’ office summoned the four after several lawyers and citizens filed lawsuits against Huang, accusing him of leaking secrets in the Special Investigation Division’s (SID) probe when he briefed Ma on information gathered through wiretapping involving Wang and Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

The prosecutors summoned Ma to clarify the details of meetings he had with Huang on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, five days before Huang called a press conference to accuse Wang of misconduct.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said Ma was given plenty of time to answer prosecutors’ questions. After the questioning, which was conducted from 8pm to 9:30pm, Ma spent more than 10 minutes reading his testimony before signing it, the office said.
The KMT news organ was reporting that all the testimonies of Ma et al were consistent.

The indignity of the President having to testify on the matter was surely compounded by the fact that there is at the moment no similar humiliation being inflicted on Wang. There is little wiggle room here -- if Wang calling the Justice Minister to get the prosecutors to forego an appeal in a friend's case is influence peddling, then so is the President's listening to improperly leaked information and then acting on it, apparently while acting in concert with the prosecutor's office.

More urgently, Wang's influence peddling -- for which there is no good evidence -- is trivial compared to the democracy-threatening use of prosecutors to eliminate the President's political enemies within his own party. For it is hard to imagine why the prosecutor would come to the President and offer him information like this unless he expected him to use it. Logically, that implies that such an expectation could be formed only if Prosecutor Huang either (1) had never done so before but understood Ma well enough to risk presenting this information or (2) he and the President had danced together before. Readers will have to decide.....

The wiretapping issue isn't dying either. The Control Yuan is opening a long probe of it.

It should also be noted that this affair and its ever-ramifying effect on Ma's presidency was exactly the wrong move if Ma wanted to speed the passage of the destructive services agreement through the legislature. Now everyone is angry, his public support has taken a beating, and any public review of the legislation will be carried through in a thoroughly poisoned atmosphere in which many will be eager to punish the President. Great work, that.

As always in sprawling affairs of this nature, there were light moments this week. UDN, the fanatically pro-KMT paper, scribbled an editorial which hilariously wondered why everyone was focusing on the wiretapping and Ma's behavior when the real issue was Wang's alleged influence peddling. Ma Ying-jeou's sister sent around a nasty text message attacking KMT legislators for not publicly supporting President Ma and excoriating Wang Jin-pyng:
Ma Yi-nan said she wanted the seven to talk to other KMT lawmakers and ask them to come out in support of Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, in his relentless fight for “matters of principle” in this case.

“I haven’t seen any KMT lawmaker express support [for Ma Ying-jeou] in front of the media, but I honestly believe that we can judge right from wrong in our hearts. The president cannot back out now,” Ma Yi-nan said.
On the serious side, this shows how little support there is for this move outside the Presidential office.  Legislators have to distance themselves from Ma with local elections coming up next year; their supporters at home may feel the impact of the President's ineptitude. I predict that few local political signs will have the President's image on them come next year.

So much more to write..... lots of people are comparing the government shutdown by the Republican Party lawmakers in the house to Ma's obdurate and insensitive behavior, but there is no comparison. Ma hasn't killed anyone and the government here is open for business and people are getting necessary services.

*Win-win bargaining, Chinese definition: "This way I win, and that way I win, and either way, you're an idiot."
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