Saturday, December 17, 2005

KMT Gets an Early Start on Looting and Lying

The KMT generated some premature tragicomedy today as the incoming County Chief for Taipei County, one of the DPP strongholds taken in the recent local elections, had his first of many gaffes to come. The incoming KMT officeholder, Chou Hsi-wei, announced that the previous county chief Su's office was too luxurious for his own very humble self, and immediately went out and blew NT$5 million on new offices on the floor below the old ones. The United Daily News, a pro-KMT paper, called it the "新縣長辦公室風波" -- The New County Chief Office Incident.

The really great thing about this is that KMT party Chairman and Great White Hope Ma Ying-jeou, who naturally backed the incoming chief, stuck his nose into the conflict and his thumb into his own eye, when he said that there was no way that Chou had the authority to order the the County government to make such a decision:


This being Taiwan, where only what's on paper is real, county government officials swung into action and produced Chou's signature on the relevant documents, saying that Chou had insisted on it. Chou later apologized and said he'd use his own money to effect the changes.

There are several things that struck me as interesting. One is Ma's appalling political judgment -- shouldn't someone cautioned him not to open his mouth until all the facts were available? This was a small bit of egg on the face, but it is exactly the kind of thing people tend to remember. Why didn't he pick up the phone and call Chou to get the facts clear? Why didn't he wait to see which way the wind was blowing?

Think anyone believes Chou when he says that Su's offices were too opulent?

It's a small incident, and it may not mean anything, but it is indicative of poor political judgment, poor communications, and shoot-from-the-hip protectiveness. I do not expect the luster to wear off Ma for quite a while. But sooner or later, if stuff like this continues, it will.

Of course, in the meantime, the people of Taiwan are going to learn that the only entity "taught a lesson" during the elections was...the electorate. If they are willing to learn it, of course.

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