Ma on KMT Human Rights, Hsieh Re-appears
With DPP Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh finally reappearing on the campaign trail, it was Ma Ying-jeou who spoke at the political prison on Green Island:
Ma promised to resume a thorough investigation of two murders that are believed to be politically motivated.
Both were committed in Taipei while Chiang Ching-kuo was president.
One of them occurred on February 28, 1980. The mother of Taiwan Provincial Assemblyman Lin Yi-hsiung and his twin daughters were murdered at their home on Hsinyi Road. Another daughter was seriously wounded but survives.
Lin, a "tangwai" or non-Kuomintang politician, was in prison himself. He was spared.
No suspects were arrested. The case was closed.
Tangwai politicians inaugurated the Democratic Progressive Party in Taipei in 1987. Lin served as its chairman and helped Chen Shui-bian elected president in 2000.
In the other case, which is considered another political assassination, Dr. W.C. Chen, an assistant professor at Carnegie-Melon University, was spirited away from his family home in Taipei by agents of the Taiwan Garrison Command on July 2, 1981.
Professor Chen was back in Taipei for a family reunion. He was scheduled to give a series of lectures.
His body was found on the Taiwan University campus on the following day. Police investigators concluded that it was an accidental death or death by suicide.
Mrs. Chen Pao-yueh, the young professor's elder sister, filed complaints with Taipei district prosecutors on July 2, 2001, charging General Wang Ching-hsi, the then commander-in-chief of the Taiwan Garrison Command, and four other officers with premeditated murder.
Convinced her brother had no reason whatsoever for suicide, Mrs. Chen pressed the charges on the day the statute of limitation took effect 20 years after the alleged murder.
No investigation has been conducted, however.
"If I were elected," the Kuomintang standard bearer vowed, "I would have both cases thoroughly investigated to find out the truth."
Even if murderers or assassins were found, they would be immune to prosecution, however.
"What we need to know," Ma said, "is the truth about both cases and if the Kuomintang government was responsible."
Ma himself is a prime example of the repellent hypocrisy that lies at the heart of KMT claims on human rights. Ma, who has been identified by prominent DPP politicians as a student spy for the KMT, reporting on his fellow students from Taiwan during his college days in the US, worked as a personal secretary and translator to the dictator Chiang Ching-kuo beginning in 1981. There is no record of Ma objecting to any of the anti-democracy actions of either Chiang, senior or junior.
In 1993, after holding several posts and rising through the KMT party-state hierarchy, Ma was made Minister of Justice under Lee Teng-hui. During the three years he held that post, he made no attempt to search for the killers of Lin Yi-hsiung's family or the murders of Chen Wen-chen, though it was well within his power to do so. Not only did Ma fail to seek justice when it was within both his power and the statute of limitations, Ma opposed the lifting of Article 100, under which dissidents were prosecuted, and opposed direct elections of the President. If these are the actions of a "moderate," I'm a point guard for the Celtics. Ma is an ideologue, and when the chips were down, acted as one.
For those of you who want a different view, Linda Arrigo's presentation on Green Island and the Kaohsiung Incident is superlative.
Meanwhile, Frank Hsieh finally ended a two-week absence from the campaign trail. Tanned, rested, and ready, Hsieh challenged Ma to a debate.
After a 13-day absence and repeated rumors about his health, Hsieh restarted his campaign following Chen's announcement. Hsieh invited Chinese National Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
馬英九) to a public debate about the referendum proposals on joining the UN.
The media read the challenge, with its strong affirmation of the referendum, as a signal that the Hsieh-Chen split is healed. Ma basically dismissed the idea, quoting Bill Clinton's famous remark: it's the economy, stupid. Chen also promised to hand over the Chairmanship of the DPP to Hsieh in due time:
President Chen Shui-bian (In the analytical piece linked above, a local political commentator gives Hsieh some excellent advice:
陳水扁) yesterday vowed to step down as chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) when his presidency ends in May, expressing his confidence in the party's presidential candidate and saying he was willing to hand over the leadership to the "new president Frank Hsieh ( 謝長廷)."
Second, Hsieh must refocus the campaign to become more candidate-centered. Despite his limited personal charisma, Ma should not pose strong competition for Hsieh, who is one of the DPP's most visionary and creative political leaders. He proved his capabilities as an administrator both as Kaohsiung City mayor and as premier.
Ma, on the other hand, has a long record of opposition to democratic reform and the notion of Taiwan-centric consciousness. His recent push for a referendum to use any flexible name -- including the Republic of China or Taiwan -- to return to the UN was simply an attempt to assimilate the DPP agenda.
Ma's performance as Taipei mayor was also lackluster, though people may not realize it because he was protected by the pro-unification media.
Not only has Ma failed as KMT chairman to achieve his internal reform proposals, he supported the party's irrational boycott of the DPP government programs.
It should be added that in Taiwan's working class male culture, Ma comes across as a sissy -- Hsieh has already raised questions about whether Ma has the stones to run the show. Hsieh is a far better candidate than Ma -- smarter, tougher, and more experienced. In a debate his rhetorical skills, honed arguing actual cases before actual judges, should blow away Ma's. Let's hope Chen can stay out of his way and just lets his horse beat Ma to the post.