CNN airs interview with Chinese Nationalist Party chairman Ma Ying-jeou
(Sorry for the delay in publishing this, but this has been a busy week, and the number of links within this post has continued to grow that whole time due to ongoing events.)
Mr. Ed revisited
Last Saturday (February 3, 2007), exactly one week after airing an interview of Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), CNN host Anjali Rao interviewed Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). [TRANSCRIPT] Let's take a look at the content and make some comparisons along the way to the previous week's interview as well as the general coverage of Taiwan by the international media.
The horse's talking head
If you can't access CNN's videos and want to see Ma Ying-jeou speak English and Newspeak simultaneously, I've uploaded the videos to YouTube. The first section was too long to be uploaded there, so I cut in into two pieces. Don't worry -- I didn't take anything out. Click the thumbnails below to view the clips. My analysis begins just below the images.
The intro: Patting the horse's backside
It begins with the usual identification of the participants and a few sound bites to grab the viewers' attention, but just eight seconds in, the memes begin in grand fashion:
[0:08] Rao: "... the man many believe could be the next president of Taiwan." [Emphasis Rao's]The more the international press repeats this meme, the more likely we'll have a reaction to his loss like the ones that occurred in 2000 and again in 2004. By continually feeding the audience this propaganda alongside pan-blue meda surveys telling us how far "ahead" they are, Ma's party will expect that audience to support the "sure winner" when they yet again acts like sore losers in 2008. The "many" Rao refers to, by the way, consists mainly of blue politicians, blue media outlets, and blue readers. Furthermore, Ma's party is already talking about changing their own rules so that he can run as their candidate even if indicted for misusing his "special allowance" -- as it seems more and more likely the case may be.
Rao knows the full name of Taiwan's DPP, but she fails to shine the tiniest bit of light upon the history of Ma's party:
[0:30] Rao: "... Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang Party."The full, correct name of Ma's party -- which reveals so much more to non-Chinese speakers and those unfamiliar with Taiwan's history -- is the "Chinese Nationalist Party" (中國國民黨). It would be so much better if the international media would actually use that name and use it at least as consistently as they do their inaccurate memes.
[0:33] Rao: "... supports closer links with china [sic]."There are no hints about what those "links" falsely imply -- that in Ma's eyes, they seem to somehow magically negate the bellicosity of China's "anti-secession" law (which "legislates" the arbitrary use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan) and their ever-increasing number of missiles.
[0:40] Rao: "... head to head with the pro-independence leadership."Last week she repeatedly called Chen "president," but in Ma's presence, he's just a "leader"? What a difference a week makes.
At the 41-second mark, we see a picture of the Shanghai skyline while Rao talks about economics. Then we get this soundbite:
[0:44] Ma: "... politically, it [China] could be a threat..."Ma actually addresses China's missiles in the full version of this statement (in Part 2 of the video). However, not only does he adjust the actual number of missiles downward by nearly 200, but those missiles apparently don't threaten too much more than his and his party's chances of winning elections. Oh, and by they way, they are apparently "all Chen Shui-bian's fault for refusing to give in to an even smaller number of missiles" (barely a parody-phrase) -- or so Ma would like you to believe.
[0:57] Rao: "... others admire him for his movie-star looks and all 'round squeaky clean image."Astute observers would know that both of those descriptions are the fruit of the pan-blue media that dominates the public sphere brainwashing the public with such nausea-inducing nonsense.
[1:05] Ma (with a straight face): "That's not really embezzlement because..."He means Chen Shui-bian, right? After all, Ma admitted that his "special allowance" went into his personal bank account (and reported as "personal income"), some of which was used "to reward staff members." (And this is looking worse for Ma by the day.)
Enough with the inflated introductions. Let's move on to the interview itself.
Part One (in which Ma declares himself "clean," the DPP "dangerous," and Taiwan merely an "island")
Get out your gasmasks, and prepare for more horseshit.
[0:14] Ma: "... I've got my eye on my party's reform."Flowing out of Ma's trap, I can't tell if that's a Freudian slip or a desperate attempt to get people who care about clean government to somehow switch to his side. Either way, it sounds like even he thinks he's short of the votes he'd need to get the presidency in 2008 and that the public is aware that his party is corrupt to the core.
At the 0:16 mark, Ma Ying-jeou is written correctly onscreen, contrasting with the incorrect formatting of President Chen's name in the previous interview. However, the transcript abbreviates his name throughout as the even more unorthodox "MJ" and gives "China" a lowercase "c" in the second paragraph of the intro.
[0:59] Ma: "I think our popu, um, larity is getting, uh, higher compared to, uh, what we were before."Um, I think, er, that, uh, Ma isn't very, um, confident about this, er, statement.
[1:36] Ma: "That's not really embezzlement because this is a special allowance for public relations. More than 6,500 'govermofficials' [government officials] have that.Ma doesn't tell us what those other "govermofficials" did with their money, but it would be embezzlement no matter how many of them broke the law, too.
[1:51] Ma: "We all use that fund according to the method we are told to follow." [Emphasis his]I'm pretty sure that "method" doesn't say to use it to reward staff -- unless you were "told" to do so by honorary eternal KMT chairman Lien Chan.
[1:58] Ma: "Though at the moment, I believe that I have done nothing wrong."Again, he's not too confident here. Nor does he even mention the courts as Chen Shui-bian did in his interview.
Humbug! With "media friends" like these, who needs the courts?:
[2:15] Rao: "You've got this very clean image."Notice, how that's stated as indisputable fact. You don't suppose that those "rewards" for Ma's staff members helped to perpetuate that "image," huh?
[2:38] Ma: "I'm probably the person who donated the most property to public charity or public interest, and I have engaged in those things for more than 2 decades."It's quite interesting that Ma has this figure onhand, but we can see why Ma failed the bar exam. That argument wouldn't work in a court of law. As for the monetary donations, much of the money he's referring to wasn't his to donate in the first place. He can't pay Paul back to make up for stealing from Peter. That is highly illogical and does not amount to restitution to the victims or atonement for the crime. Besides, I hear that Chen Shui-bian donated a good chunk of money to various charity organizations (not run by his wife) -- something Chen didn't mention in order to "convince" anyone of his innocence.
[2:54] "I have donated blood for [sic] 174 times, so I think a lot of people believe that I'm still very clean."
Just after Ma tosses around a bunch of numbers regarding the supposedly "poor economy" (which, in my experience, sees Taiwan's citizenry spending like there's no tomorrow) this softball is thrown to him:
[3:49] Rao: "I assume you're talking about the deterioration, in part, due to the DPP's less-than-cozy relationship with mainland China.And I assume someone fed that response to Rao.
[4:09] Ma: "security threat to Taiwan... 800 missiles... on the other hand... opportunity for Taiwan."Here, Ma gives the impression that he values money more than democracy -- and to top it off, he gives China a 20% discount, as they currently have nearly 1,000 missiles targeting Taiwan.
[5:31] Rao: "If [China] is such a threat, then why does the KMT keep blocking arms sales to -- the US arms sales to Taiwan that the DPP has long been fighting for?" [Emphasis hers]This question stands out, but doesn't do much to make up for the previous fawning. Ma's wordy response also obfuscates the fact that all that has happened so far is that after blocking the purchase 70 times, they finally allowed a discussion to be tabled. The fact remains that nothing in the budget has yet been purchased and that Taiwan's defense capabilities continue to wane as China's offensive capabilities advance, yet Ma is making the same arguments his predecessor Lien Chan did a year and a half ago.
[6:22] Rao: "... this island"When talking about "dignity" and "sovereignty," the choice of the word "island" to describe Taiwan from a China-centered POV (in which "mainland" is the counterpart) won't do.
Ma: "... the autonomy of the island... dignity... sovereignty."
[7:27] Rao: "The DPP favors independence from the mainland, which has said it will attack Taiwan if it were to declare statehood."Meme upon meme. The DPP favors international recognition of Taiwan's existing independence from China. "[M]ainland" only works if an island is part of the same territory. When bullies threaten to "attack" if a smaller kid's lunch money isn't handed over, one takes on a faux-neutral position by saying: "The kid favors spending his money on his own lunch, even though the bully said he'd beat him up if he did so." An objective view of the facts tells us, "The lunch money belongs to the kid, and the bully keeps threatening him, despite having no rights to that money."
[7:40] Rao: "Do you think that their [the DPP's] agenda is dangerous to Taiwan as a whole?"As if Taiwan's "international status" is in more danger. Do you think it's dangerous for kids to hang onto their own lunch money, or should they just give it up? That's the same question, basically, and Rao handed that lunch money to Ma on a silver platter. His answer is just as ridiculous, pretending to be unaware of the bully's bellicose nature and placing the blame on the smaller, weaker kid who does his own homework and has to make do with his own lunch money. While both the question[er] and answer[er] lay the blame on Chen here, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) is the one who harmed Taiwan's international status the most when he refused dual representation at the UN in 1971 and sunk the citizens of Taiwan into their subsequent diplomatic isolation.
Ma: "Yes, I think they will endanger Taiwan's not only security status but also international status as well."
[8:35] Ma: [My party sold out Taiwan 2 years ago.]And right at the time of the "anti-secession" law, no less. (Go see that part of the video to hear how he stated his full inadvertant admission.)
[9:00] Ma: [a false re-assertion of the "1992 consensus" which KMT con artist Su Chi admitted in January 2006 was a fabrication]And there you have Part One of the show. We'll be right back after CNN tries to sell me things for which I have absolutely no desire.
Part Two (in which Ma displays ways to dissemble regarding just about anything -- even things which don't exist in the real world)
After the usual commercials targeting the upper income bracket, we come back to hear Ma relate his goofy story about him being "both" Taiwanese and Chinese. (Do you think that's what he says in closed-door KMT meetings?). Oh, and he talks about it for a good 40 seconds or so before he can spit out the word "Taiwanese." Then, the host asks more questions based upon false premises:
[1:17] Rao: "How do you go about unifying a society that is so divided [into Taiwanese/Chinese identity] like that?" [Emphasis hers]I say this is based on false premises for this simple reason: While Taiwanese are indeed made up of immigrants, the ones who still identify themselves as Chinese as opposed to Taiwanese are the same ones who came here as occupiers and committed atrocities against the local population. They are the same ones who continue to deny people the right to identify with Taiwan instead of China. Who's to blame for that? Is Ma trying to defend China's aggression against Taiwan.
[1:35] Ma: "You see, Taiwan, in history, is a place for immigrants from all over the world."
[2:20] [Ma tries to "explain" TECRO, but he skips the part about CKS and the UN.]See the explanation of that back in Part One (below the quotes at the 7:40 mark).
[2:52] Rao: "Do you think that Taiwan will ever reunify with the mainland?"Again, we're presented with the "mainland" construction, from which "reunify" is mistakenly derived. For Taiwan to "reunify" with the "mainland" (i.e., China), it would have had to be part of it in the first place. Just a reminder to all journalists: Taiwan has never been part of the PRC, and just because they've repeated it a million times (with your help) doesn't make it so.
[3:10] Ma: "Taiwan's future has to be determined by the 23 million Taiwanese -- by their free will."Whoa, horsie! I thought your latest position was that independence was not an option for Taiwan!
[3:17] Ma: "At the moment, the majority of Taiwanese favor the maintenance of Taiwan's status quo."The supposed "status quo" (a PRC construct if there ever was one) that people wish to "maintain" is the part about not being controlled by China. The 980 or so missiles that are currently aimed at the island, the constant threats made by China, the legislation of such threats, and KMT cooperation with the untrustworthy CCP in the wake of such legislation affect people's answers to such vaguely-worded polls. The most ironic part of this bit is what Ma said less than a week earlier, paraphrased here by the Taipei Times: "Arguing that the KMT would never seek independence, Ma said yesterday that the country's future should not be decided based solely on opinion polls."
[3:28] Ma: "Even the mainland today is not interested in pushing that [unification] because they know it is not ready yet. Nobody is ready. And what they are doing now is to prevent Taiwan from going further in independence instead of calling for reunification."Again, Ma seems to dump the responsibility for the danger all in Chen Shui-bian's lap for "going further with independence" (i.e., the recognition of the existing reality), even though Ma just said himself that "Nobody is ready" (for unification).
[4:05] Rao (VO): "After the break Ma Ying-jeou tell us what he thinks about the air of celebrity surrounding him."If you were watching this on TV, you might have wanted to stick your head out of the window during the following commercials to get some air.
Part Three (in which Ma runs short of oxygen and admits that despite referring to Taiwan moments earlier as merely and"island," it is (in his own words) "a democratic country")
Rao starts out the third segment with a this:
[0:12] Rao: "Chairman Ma, you're it's fair to say, a very popular politician around these parts. And you've always had this air of celebrity about you."No kidding! I wonder how much "journalists" get paid to fluff this "air" of "fair[ness]."
I also have to wonder how the same journalists can ask questions like this next one -- unless, of course, such questions are just set up in order to allow answers containing unchallenged distortions:
[2:44] Rao: "[Y]ou did come under a lot of flack didn't you for your handling of the SARS crisis in 2003. Do you think that those criticisms against you were justified?"Ma dissembles in this response, too, comparing an acute disease like SARS (where even Taipei doctors escaped their quarantines) to the much slower-acting and more-difficult-to-contract AIDS. Rao should have followed up about the most basic errors Ma made in handling the situation.
Rao then asks another question from the KMT perspective (and I wonder why she showed the ancient footage):
[3:31] Rao: "Politics in Taiwan can be a ferocious business. You know the world often sees these pictures of parliamentarians just losing their rag and brawling, hurling abuse and often objects at each other. Why do we see this happen so frequently just you know, the parliament descends to this undignified chaos here?"Having painted Ma as "squeaky clean," she gives absolutely no real context to the uninformed viewer. Ma, in another unchallenged response, talks about "rule of law" [3:58, 4:43, 5:13, 5:26] -- as if he has any idea -- when he allowed the redshirts to run roughshod over the citizens of Taipei for over a month. Therefore, it portrays the violence as coming from those who Ma is opposing. The greens aren't the only ones doing such things, but in the latest brawl, they were fighting against the pan-blues' attempt to strongarm yet another unconstitutional piece of legislation by which the pan-blue majority would be given control of the Central Election Commission. Some people fight for democracy, others for total, perpetual control.
Wrapping up his "rule of law" run-on, Ma makes a statement which is surprising coming out of his mouth. However, he adds a qualifier which -- coming from a man whose party/supporters rioted for four weeks straight after losing a democratic election -- will only further confuse the casual viewer about his real feelings on the topic:
[5:35] Ma: "No doubt Taiwan is a democratic country, but our quality of democracy still needs a lot of refinement."The interview ends with this unbelievable exchange:
[5:43] Rao: "You've been in politics for so many years now Chairman Ma. What sort of counsel would you give someone who wanted to follow this career path?"Honestly, I wouldn't even buy a used scooter from this guy. And I would certainly not advise any young people who want to participate in politics to vote for Ma. But don't just believe me. Check these things out for yourselves.
Ma: "Be honest. Be honest with yourself, be honest with you know your fellow politicians. This is a rare quality of politicians. But integrity, honesty is still I think the most valuable quality for a politician. Don't think that politicians should cheat should fight each other all the time. People don't like that. People like to see honest persons. So I certainly will advise many young people who want to participate in politics, honesty is the best policy."
Different colors: Taiwan, 台灣, Ma Ying-jeou, 馬英九, special allowance fund, 特支費, Chinese Nationalist Party, 中國國民黨, Kuomintang, KMT, 國民黨, Chen Shui-bian, 陳水扁, Democratic Progressive Party, 民主進步黨, DPP, 民進黨, Republic of China, 中華民國, ROC, Chiang Kai-shek, 蔣介石, China, 中國, Taiwan Independence, 台灣獨立, Taidu, 台獨, sovereignty, 主權, democracy, 民主, CNN, TalkAsia, Anjali Rao, YouTube
Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!