Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wang Nixes Ma-Wang ticket

After one hour of meetings this week, legislative Speaker Wang Jyn-ping declined to become Ma Ying-jeou's vice presidential candidate:

Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the Legislative Yuan yesterday officially declined to become the running mate of Ma Ying-jeou, the Kuomintang's presidential candidate, in the 2008 presidential race, making the Ma-Wang ticket no longer possible in the upcoming poll.

Newspapers on the island had been reporting that Wang would not be pairing up with Ma for the last few weeks, and now it is officially true. Wang, who is considered more or less the informal leader of the Taiwanese KMT, is close to the "southern legislators," Taiwanese KMTers who came out of the KMT's local patronage networks and who are opposed to the increasing influence of the "Ma troop" within the KMT. Wang himself is a product of the KMT's grip on the farm associations. The split reflects the deeper problems the KMT has in reconciling its control by mainlander elites with its need to have support from Taiwanese. The importance of Wang was noted in a China Post editorial the other day:

Of course, the Ma-Wang match is beneficial to the KMT not only in winning the elections but also for the sake of party unity as Wang is a highly respected native Taiwanese, a fact that definitely helps the KMT to win support of the locals.

As to the second question, as a native Taiwanese, Wang will surely be a plus to Ma in terms of ethnical balance since Ma is regarded as a "mainlander."

But, as to the other part of the question, the answer is that, as current political developments indicate, even with Wang on the ticket, there is no guarantee that Ma will win the presidency in 2008.

In fact, there is an increasing possibility that Ma may lose in view of the downward slip of his popularity.

The Taiwan News reported that Wang said he wanted to remain in the legislature:

Wang said he rejected the offer because he wants to stay in the Legislature.

He said that if he decided to run on the ticket with Ma, his role as legislative speaker would be affected and compromised, which would not helpful to settling the major legislative controversies in the country and would serve to exacerbate the political wrangling between the rival parties.

Therefore, he said, he chose to remain the neutral head of the Legislature in order to help to stabilize the country.

The Taiwan News also rounded up the scuttlebutt on other candidates for Ma's veep.

According to local news outlets yesterday, the KMT is expected to recommend Lin to join Ma's presidential ticket after Ma's original choice, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-lyng shot down his offer on Thursday.

Lin brought 7-11 and the Starbucks coffee franchise to Taiwan as the chief executive officer of local food giant Uni-President Enterprises Corp., and has established strong business credibility on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Those close to him reveal that Lin also has a keen interest in politics.

The Tainan native is also seen as a favorite among some Ma's supporters because of his close connections with the southern part of the island, which leans more towards pan-green than the north.

Many believe the economics whiz, with his expertise in business and his southern Taiwan links, is the ideal right-hand man for Ma in boosting Taiwan's waning competitiveness and narrowing the ideological gaps between the north and south.


So far, Ma is sticking to the story that a Ma-Lin ticket is merely a suggestion from eager supporters, not an official alliance.

"I won't rule out teaming up with people outside the political realm. I am willing to work with anyone who complements me and is enthusiastic about achieving a better Taiwan," said the candidate.

Other names have been tossed into the ring, such as former Premier Hsiao Wang-chang and current Legislator Lee Jih-chu. Rumor has it that the shortlist of candidates also includes some pan-green individuals.

The pro-Green Taipei Times had a more negative report than the Taiwan News or the pro-KMT China Post, noting some negative remarks by Wang:

Wang yesterday accused the KMT of damaging his relationship with Ma by spreading rumors that he had negotiated with KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) on Wednesday about what his powers would be if he were to become vice president.

The Chinese-language China Times and United Daily News reported Wu had promised Wang that he would be in charge of domestic policies as vice president, while Ma would focus on national defense and international relations.

"Chairman Wu brought up the issue, but I asked him to stop talking about power distribution. The newspapers, however, claimed that I had been the one to raise the topic. Ridiculous!" Wang said.

Ma and Wang have not gotten along since Ma blew Wang away in the KMT Chairmanship election two years ago. Ma then accused Wang of cheating, there were threats of lawsuits, and party insiders roasted Ma. Lotsa fun to watch, that election.

In addition to being the unofficial leader of the Taiwanese KMT, Wang is close to People's First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong, the formerly influential mainlander leader who split with the KMT in 2001 to form the PFP (which in turn prompted President and former KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui to take people out of the KMT to form the TSU). Soong has been laying doggo since his return from the US a couple of months ago, where he went after losing the 2006 Taipei Mayoral election in a big way. Soong's influence is on the wane, but there is an outside chance that Wang might pair up with him for a Presidential run. Soong may well run since his party, with its shrinking support base and with its legislators fleeing back to the KMT fold, needs to have him in the public eye in order to remain a viable political entity.

Wang has also been holding back because the Vice Presidency is the most useless post on the island, with almost no clout at all. As Speaker and leader of the Taiwanese KMT, Wang is an influential man. As Veep he'd be totally neutered, which is of course why Ma wants him in that post. As I've reported before, one of the KMT's goals is to eviscerate the authority of the President, since the Presidency is likely to remain in DPP hands given that the DPP has better odds at the national level than at the local level. The KMT's goal is remove the power to appoint the premier from the President and hand it back to the legislature. Wang Jyn-ping is often mentioned as the man for that upgraded premier post.

Wang is widely recognized as a canny politician. He knows that he has many prospects should he remain where he is, and none at all if he slips into the #2 slot behind Ma Ying-jeou.


Anonymous said...

Two articles in seven o'clock "AM"??

It's Saturday! Don't you need more sleep?

I have to say, Mike, you're such a diligent blogger!

JZ said...

Defense officials tried to reverse China policy: