Monday, February 05, 2007

Ma on TalkAsia

Chairman Ma handled another interview with the foreign media well, according to the Taipei Times...some excerpts:

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) used an interview on CNN's Talk Asia program to accuse the Dem-ocratic Progressive Party (DPP) of endangering Taiwan's security and international status by advocating independence.

Ma's interview displays some of the reasons the KMT handles the foreign media better than the DPP does. First, Ma speaks English. Second, he's on message, which the DPP often is not. Third, he simply boldly misleads whenever he encounters a problem, meaning that the interviewer must have some knowledge of Taiwan affairs in order to interview him. Managing the media is easy when you don't have to be honest and your interviewers lack the depth of knowledge required to call you on your claims.

"We could adopt a policy that would on one hand really take care of the `one China' principle, but on the other hand maintain Taiwan's dignity. What I mean is we should magnify the benefits but minimize the threat," he added.

Ma's been saying this for some time now, but nothing concrete is ever put forward. What kind of policy can reduce the military threat and "maximize benefits"? He doesn't say. The last time Ma went overseas he had to repudiate criticism of China for pointing missiles at Taiwan -- at the moment, KMT policy is that it is OK for China to point missiles at Taiwan. Who is threatening Taiwan's security?

Asked to comment on the KMT's blocking of the arms procurement bill in the legislature, Ma denied his party had stalled the bill.

"We did not block it ... We only chose those weapons that we believed could be used most efficiently for our defense," Ma said.

It's great that the CNN interviewer actually knew enough to ask about the arms bill. Of course Ma lied barefacedly -- the bill was blocked over 50 times in committee by the KMT and its legislative allies, and never reached the floor. Too bad she didn't call him on that. KMT officials lied repeatedly to the US, saying that the would support the bill. Only recently has there been some movement on the issue. Ma's claim that the KMT "chose only those weapons....defense," is disingenuous -- until very recently, the package had been rejected in toto, repeatedly. It finally took public criticism from US officials to get the KMT and its allies to move on the arms purchase.

Ma also took the opportunity to proclaim his innocence in response to allegations he embezzled money from his special allowance during his tenure as Taipei mayor.

"It is a special allowance for public relations. More than 6,500 government officials have it. We all use the fund according to the rules. At the moment, I believe that I've done nothing wrong. So far, no charges have been brought against me," he said.

It's great that the interviewer hit Ma with this. I love his disingenuous answer: We all use the fund according to the rules. ROFL. Here he avoids saying that the rules, which allow officials to use half the money without providing receipts, are the problem. Not indicted? Could it be because the man investigating Ma is his good friend? Note how Ma's story shifts -- the funds are for PR, he says, though he earlier said that he spent the $$ on rewards and gifts for his employees. Actually, the funds are for whatever the Mayor pleases....and half went directly into his personal accounts, had false receipts substituted for them...

..but where has the slush fund scandal gone? With thousands of current and former officials implicated, the System seems to have quietly made it disappear.

Describing himself as a "man of principle," Ma said he entered politics to promote the rule of law and aimed to upgrade the quality of democracy, calling on all politicians to be honest.

"I don't think that politicians should cheat and fight ... People don't like that," he added. "Honesty is the best policy."

Ma entered politics to promote the rule of law? It's too bad she didn't ask him about the allegations that he reported on fellow students from Taiwan as a spy when he was studying in the US. It might put his comments about "honesty" into perspective.


Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog the other day via Scott Sommer's. I'm a Taiwanese who has been outside the country for 20+ yrs. I've been looking for some socio-political blogs regarding Taiwan but written in English. Love your blog! Thanks for keeping me updated :)

Michael Turton said...

Thanks! I'll try and keep up. You should also look at Taiwan Matters...

Anonymous said...

And this is what this former minister of justice had to say about his special allowance in an interview in today's Liberty Times (Feb 9). He wants us to believe that he is not guilty of misappropriation simply because he claims he never thought of the funds as public funds, regardless of any legal findings.

"I feel that the crucial thing is not to objectively define the legal character of the issue, but rather whether or not the user treated the funds as public funds when signing for them or receiving the money. If he first treated it as public funds he will of course be guilty of misappropriation if he later treats it as his private funds. But if he never treated it as public funds in the first place, then no misappropriation has occurred."