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Sunday, August 19, 2007


Ma's Insider Problem

For the last year I've been noting how Ma Ying-jeou has faced opposition from within his own party, by insiders who dislike him. During the Chairmanship elections last year longtime political observer and commentator Lawrence Eyton noted:
Ma was widely touted by the media as the favorite, but he was certainly a very odd favorite. When the vote took place, three quarters of the party's legislators, many high-level party officials such as central executive committee head Chang Che-shen and more than 100 retired generals - the KMT is traditionally strong in the military - had thrown their support behind Wang.
Party insiders just plain don't like Ma, despite his being the right "ethnicity." His support comes overwhelmingly from the conservative rank and file who identify strongly with China and look down on Taiwanese. The insiders preferred Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng, longtime foe of Ma Ying-jeou, and widely regarded as the unofficial leader of the Taiwanese KMT.

Today the Liberty Times ran a piece on the relationship between Wang Jin-pyng and Hou Kuan-jen, the prosecutor in the Ma case. Hou and his fellow prosecutors are currently appealing the verdict. This case has brought to light some of the innumerable connections that weld together the island's ruling elites. Not only was Ma the Witness at Hou's wedding, Hou is related to Wang:

王 金平對黨內高層在他拒絕的次日,就拿他與侯寬仁的親戚關係放話、作文章,甚至扭曲事實,感到相當憤怒。他說,侯寬仁是馬英九任法務部長的部屬,關係不是 更親密?讓他最生氣的是,那位高層既然要在他與侯的親戚關係上作文章,卻又找人來見他,要他勸請侯寬仁放棄上訴,「這到底是什麼意思?」

The second day that Wang Jin-pyng refused to use his family relationship with Hou, high-ranking KMT officials raised a stink, even twisting the facts. Wang was quite angry about it. Hou was under Ma when Ma was Justice Minister, Wang pointed out, and wasn't that an even closer relationship? What made him most angry was that on one hand, it was said he had a relationship with Hou, while on the other, people kept coming to talk to Wang about it and have Wang get Hou to not appeal the verdict in favor of Ma. Wang said: "What the hell is that shit?"*

KMT officials were trying to prevail on Wang to have Hou stop the appeals process and end the case. Wang, Ma's longtime rival and loser in the 2005 KMT Chairmanship election, was quoted later in the article as saying that putting he and Hou together is like confusing peanuts and pressed tofu (土豆仁與土豆干). The relationship that KMT officials are trying to leverage? Hou's wife is the sister of Wang's nephew's wife. That's farther than my family relationship to Chen Shui-bian. As Wang said, who doesn't have relatives somewhere?

Had Wang chosen, he might have found a way to make the relationship yield something. Yet, he chose not to do so. How much help will Ma have come election time from key members of his own party?

*I decided to translate the thought, not the words.

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At 2:20 PM, Blogger Joshua Samuel Brown said...

Yesterday I was watching CNN, and they showed a scene from the parliamentary floor of some South American democracy. Maybe it was Bolivia...I was half asleep. The proceedings had devolved into a bench clearing brawl - kicking, punching, water hurling. And I thought to myself, man, I loves me some democracy.

I know, not really about your post. I just wanted to share.

Write more!


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