Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Venusian Politics

And if he went back, there was a warrant waiting for him from the Federation Member Republic of Venus. That was standard procedure. If you got voted out of office, they indicted you for corrupt practices. There were no other kind in Venusian politics.-- H. Beam Piper, When In the Course --

The China Post, the pro-KMT paper, reported the other day on a burgeoning structural problem that Ma Ying-jeou is facing. No longer KMT Chairman Ma, he's just an ordinary jeou now....

He had planned a series of events to commemorate the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent native islanders while he was still heading the largest opposition party.

Ma took part in a 60th anniversary memorial rally yesterday to upstage Wu Po-hsiung, acting chairman of the Kuomintang, who led opposition party leaders to commemorate the victims of the incident before the cenotaph of the February 28 Memorial Museum in the heart of Taipei.

This was two days before President Chen Shui-bian will unveil a cenotaph at the National February 28 Memorial Museum.

Wang Jin-pyng, president of the Legislative Yuan and a former vice chairman of the Kuomintang who is expected to be Ma's rival to get the party nomination for president in 2008, was not included.

Appearing in black, Ma shook the hands of members of bereaved families who attended the event in memory of the tragedy in which hundreds of innocent Chinese mainlanders were killed as well by native islanders rising in a riot six decades ago tomorrow.

In the past Ma was assured of a wide audience and access to all the Party resources and functions. Luckily for Citizen Ma the media, largely pro-Blue, still serves him.

The article also reported on the continuing rivalry of Wang and Ma:

Wang, who has yet to declare candidacy for president, is furious. Ma declared he would run next year when he announced he resigned as Kuomintang chairman.

According to his aides, Wang did not receive an invitation to attend the memorial rally.

"We received no word," said one aide. "How could Wang Jin-pyng attend, if he was not invited?"

There is a special concert in memory at the old Taipei City Hall today. Ma will speak at the concert, to which Wang was not invited, either. Ma will also hold a 2/28 incident press conference there tomorrow.

"It's apparent that Ma wants to ostracize Wang," said another aide to the parliament speaker, who, unlike Ma, is a native islander.

The paper makes a point of noting that Wang's aide is a Taiwanese, while Ma himself is a mainlander -- and refers also to "innocent Chinese mainlanders" versus "native islanders." This is a sly way of reminding readers that Wang is a Taiwanese without saying so directly -- and thus pointing out who, in the paper's view, is the good guy. And this from a paper that constantly hacks on the DPP for fomenting "ethnic tension" -- when in fact that tension is one of the key underlying issues between Ma and his support base, and a Presidential run for Wang.

The article goes on to note that if Ma is convicted of corruption -- and it is hard to see how he would not be, since the money is there in his account for all to see -- then he'd run for President anyway, even though the KMT by-laws forbid it. That by-law was added at the insistance of -- who else? -- Ma Ying-jeou. The gods love irony... A potential independence run for the Presidency was also mentioned, an idea that is constantly floated as an outside possibility. This is unlikely, since the KMT has already demonstrated that is it so committed to Ma it will suspend or change any of its Party rules. Dankwort Rustow once observed that the more the legitimacy of institutions is in question, the more it is necessary to find legitimacy in persons.

A couple of papers reported that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Ma's rival, had pointed out that Ma may not be able to take the Presidency even if he wins the popular vote.

But Wang said Sunday the Central Election Commission may initiate litigation to deprive a successful presidential candidate of his office if he is convicted and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

He cited the Statute Governing the Election and Recall of the President and the Vice President as the source and called the Kuomintang's attention to the impending trial of Ma Ying-jeou.

The crime with which Ma was charged is punishable by imprisonment of at least seven years. "However," Wang said, "he was indicted as a repeat offender, and that would make the sentence longer -- to 10 years -- if he were convicted."

Wang is close to PFP Chairman James Soong, currently in self-imposed Olympian exile in the United States, brooding, watching, waiting. An alternative Wang-Soong/Soong-Wang ticket might well be a possibility if Ma manages to terminally offend Wang, and if it occurs the "southern legislators" -- the legislators who support Wang and oppose the "Ma troop" -- may become a problem for a Ma victory. Last year they feared Ma was slating them for elimination under the new legislature. With Ma gone as KMT Chairman, he has much less influence over who goes into the pot for the legislative elections. And you can be certain it won't be an overly large number of Ma supporters.

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