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Saturday, November 18, 2006

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The differences between the cases of Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian

Curiouser and curiouser

In reference to the disparity between comments a couple of months ago saying that Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) finances were clean as a whistle and the current situation regarding his special allowance fund where the stink is so thick you can see it, the Ministry of Audit's vacillating spokesperson Wang Yung-hsing (王永興) said recently, "越說越複雜" ("The more that's said, the more complicated it gets"). The thing is, however, that the more complicated it gets for the KMT -- actually for all of the pan-blues and all of the anti-Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) crowd -- the more clearly the public can see the pure hatred, the lack of reason, and the double standards upon which the opposition crowd's actions are based.

One of the big differences here is that the accusations against President Chen are focused on the items whose receipts were used to cover expenditures of the "state affairs fund," but not even prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) has said that the money in question went into the president's pockets. No, that case is all about a lack of evidence, yet the anti-Chen crowd has been demanding for the president to step down because that's the only thing which will satisfy their vampiric thirst.

Enter the horseshit
There's a Mandarin phrase similar to Wang's above that suits Ma's special allowance fund. It goes "越描越黑" ("The more one tries to cover up a scandal, the more it stinks"). As pro-democracy author Jerome F. Keating has said, the accusations have opened up a Pandora's Box for the accusers. Let's take a look at the contradictions they have revealed about themselves.

Back in June of this year, more than four months before the indictments were even issued against the First Lady and three presidential aides, Ma himself said that President Chen would "die a horrible death" if he didn't voluntarily step down at that time. [Here's a Google cache of an article containing the original quote in Mandarin.] The shoe is on the other foot now, and Ma has said that even if he's indicted himself, he would only give up his KMT chairmanship. Cutting through the thick odor of that deep pile of horseshit, I can still clearly smell the stench of a double standard.

Exit the gecko's tail
Taipei City staffer Yu Wen (余文) has been referred to as the "gecko's tail" (from the Mandarin phrase "斷尾求生" or "Sever tail, save life"). In order to escape a predator's grip, a gecko will gladly let go of its tail. Yu, despite having to submit an average of only four receipts per day, claims that receipts for larger amounts were substituted for purchase of smaller amounts in order to reduce paperwork. Ma has called this a mere "administrative defect" for which he apologized, and he hopes we'll all just ignore the obvious.

It is being said by many that by diverting blame to Yu and saying "Oops," Ma is using the gecko's strategy to save his ass. Here's the kicker (from the article about the "defect") which reveals to careful observers that this is merely a diversion:
"Although I knew nothing about it and so far there is no evidence to prove [my staffer] pocketed the money, I still need to shoulder administrative, political and moral responsibility for this blemish ... I offer my sincere apologies to Taipei residents," Ma told a press conference at Taipei City Hall.
Red herring/straw man alert! I don't believe anyone is accusing Yu of pocketing any money. But there's still the looming question of the other NT$170,000/month which requires no receipts that Mayor Ma has been sucking up for nearly 8 years. While he's over a month shy of that duration, the full amount would come to NT$16,320,000.

紅包拿來! ("Where's my red envelope?")
What about the other NT$170,000/month? Taipei City Government Secretariat Director Lee Shu-te (李述德) claims that about NT$80,000/month was used "to reward staff members," according to an article in Friday's Taipei Times. (Ah, the perks of working for these people!) Over a period of 8 years, that would be another NT$7,680,000 that was used not for administrative purposes, but rather to pad the pockets of those in City Hall. Add that to the previous number, and we now have almost NT$24,000,000 of government money going into the pockets of Ma and his employees. There's no question about this -- it is what has been admitted by Ma and his staff. Remember, the accusations being flung in the direction of President Chen have to do with receipts amounting to NT$14,800,408. Again, even if it's only this portion of Ma's money that has problems, there's still a huge double standard at work.

Mayor's Office Director Cheng An-kuo (鄭安國), whose resignation Ma accepted on Wednesday, admitted that all of that money went directly into Ma's personal bank account. It looks like the tailless gecko is now missing its forelimbs.

Taipei Information Department Director Lo Chih-cheng (羅智成) also admitted to some key points during an on-air phone call to SET's (三立電視) "Talking Show" (大話新聞). First, he admitted that Ma deposited the NT$170,000/month which didn't require receipts into his personal account. He also admitted that Ma subsequently declared that money as part of his personal assets in a statement to the Examination Yuan, though he said he didn't know how much it was altogether. Bye bye, hind legs! Remember, Chen Shui-bian denies similar charges, and no evidence exists that he has pocketed any of the money. The question is all about why he used receipts for things from magazines to diamonds to cover those expenses, and the very simple answer is that the Ministry of Audit told him to do so (before telling him much later not to do so).

Another way Ma is trying to avoid the "jaws of death" is by saying he'll donate NT$15,000,000 to charity. How amusing! If I stole your money and then donated a portion of it (no matter how large) to charity, I would be totally avoiding two things: 1) paying back the victim; and 2) atoning for the crime. The law requires that Ma return the unused portion of those funds to an account specifically for the purpose of collecting that remaining money, and Ma apparently did not follow this law. He also seems to have gotten in the "charitable" mood just within the past few days. Can you say "cover-up"?

No longer in possession of a tail which can be easily detached (since no one else can take the blame for putting the money in Ma's personal account) or even of any more limbs, Ma's head would appear to be on the chopping block. [Troll repellent: this is a metaphor regarding his political career.]

Taking responsibility
Actually, even if Ma would resign to feign "responsibility" for this (something I suggested not so long ago), it would amount to nothing more than a show on his part. There's less than a month remaining until the mayoral election. The main point is not that he needs to step down or go to jail -- it's simply that he needs to apply the same standards to his opponents or shut the fuck up.

Remember, there haven't been any rotting corpses discovered on the balconies of the Presidential Office under Chen's administration, but there has been one at Taipei's City Hall under Ma's watch. That's something that deserves much more attention.

Horses and carriages: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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