Voters Must Not Allow Politicians to Repeatedly Manipulate Them
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 4, 2011
Summary: People First Party Chairman James Soong has handed a petition signed by 355,819 petitioners to the Taipei City Election Commission. It's official. James Soong is an independent presidential candidate in the 2012 election. For the KMT, James Soong has become a nightmare from which it cannot awake. Everyone must pay close attention to him, even though he is utterly unelectable. He has become the decisive factor in the presidential election, Once again, this is a test of the maturity of the island's democracy.
Full Text Below:
People First Party Chairman James Soong has handed a petition signed by 355,819 petitioners to the Taipei City Election Commission. It's official. James Soong is an independent presidential candidate in the 2012 election. For the KMT, James Soong has become a nightmare from which it cannot awake. Everyone must pay close attention to him, even though he is utterly unelectable. He has become the decisive factor in the presidential election, Once again, this is a test of the maturity of the island's democracy.
Just exactly what does James Soong want? Why is he determined to stay in the race to the bitter end? The KMT has never understood this mystery. But the answer is actually quite simple. James Soong is motivated entirely by power, Power is his only motivation. Years ago, before he became Governor of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui gave Soong a choice of appointments, including ROC Representative to Washington and Minister of Defense. He unhesitatingly chose Governor of Taiwan. James Soong said that a "Mainlander" is currently unelectable. But if I serve as governor now, it will be easier to nominate a Mainlander candidate when elections are eventually held. Therefore he fought hard for the KMT nomination, Wu Poh-hsiung was assumed to be a shoo-in. Wu was determined to run even, if he won only in Alishan. But in the end Wu was forced to quietly withdraw.
After the Taiwan Provincial Government was frozen, James Soong and Lee Teng-hui had a falling out. Reconciliation was possible, But James Soong rejected attempts at reconciliation, and went his own way. The reason was simple. He was a popularly elected governor. He had strong public backing. Other than premier, what position was worthy of him? But Lee Teng-hui had no intention of letting him run for president. For Lee, pushing out Vincent Siew to placate James Soong was not an option. Just before Lien Chan was officially nominated, Lee sent Soong a hand-written letter, inviting Soong to be Lien's vice presidential running mate. Soong did not even bother to read the letter, but sent it back unopened.
The 2004 Lien-Soong ticket was a major turning point. The KMT tasted the bitter fruit of losing power. More importantly, Chen Shui-bian cheated both Lien Chan and James Soong, They dissolved their ticket and did not return to power. Lien and Soong were once at odds with each other. During this period however, they development a reasonably good, highly cooperative relationship. Chen Shui-bian's "Two Bullets" miracle even nurtured a degree of "side by side in the trenches" camaraderie. Yet less than a year later, James Soong arranged a "Bian/Soong Meeting," leaving the KMT stunned and betrayed. KMT Chairman Lien Chan was about to embark on his historic ice-breaking trip to the Mainland. James Soong hope to preempt Lien by visiting the Mainland as "President Chen Shui-bian official envoy."
Soong used to insist that he was not someone who yearned for a position of power. He said he was not someone who made political deals. People motivated by power can do without a position of power. But they cannot do without public attention, The "Bian/Soong Meeting" was a good example. Soong merely wanted a role in cross-Strait relations. But this is not always the case, According to a China Times Weekly WikiLeaks report, in 2006 James Soong insisted on running for Mayor of Taipei. Soong told then AIT Taipei Office Chief Stephen M. Young that Ma Ying-jeou's consultant was considering asking Hau Lung-bin to withdraw from the race. In return, Ma would promise not to run for president in 2008. Soong said that running for mayor was the same as telling the KMT he was not running for president and would not serve as the DPP government's premier. The report said union organizer Liao Feng-teh told them Ma Ying-jeou had already denied this allegation.
After his defeat in the Taipei mayoral race, James Soong announced his withdrawal from the political arena. But the Ma Ying-jeou discretionary fund controversy handed the PFP a number of bargaining chips. WikiLeaks described the 2007 KMT/PFP joint nominations for the Legislative Yuan as something the PFP accepted "only because it had no choice." People First Party Legislator Huang Yi-chiao told Stephen M. Young that the People First Party met with the DPP in advance. The PFP told the DPP that the PFP would be absent from the Legislative Yuan Ways and Means Committee session, The "Exclude Ma Clause" would make anyone found guilty in a first instance trial ineligible as a candidate. The PFP's absence enabled the DPP to make the "Exclude Ma Clause" part of the agenda. This forced the KMT to yield seats to the PFP in the legislative election.
The KMT and the PFP have often been at odds with each other. But this joint nomination strategy enabled the KMT and PFP to achieve an unprecedented victory in the 2008 legislative elections. Ma Ying-jeou also won by a landslide in the presidential election. But the KMT was barely back in power before the People First Party began demanding even more political appointments. This included appointments to the Control Yuan, which calls for the independent exercise of power, and for which appointments of a partisan political character are inappropriate. James Soong complained that Wu Po-hsiung was forced to consent, and that Ma Ying-jeou was unwilling to nominate PFP candidates to the Control Yuan.
After meeting with James Soong, Stephen M. Young remarked, "James Soong is a wily, unprincipled politician. He controls a tiny faction within the legislature (21 seats out of 221 total). Yet on major issues he is able to exercise a decisive influence. Everyone is afraid of offending Soong. Probably because he knows many of the KMT's dirty secrets. But the question is, why should Ma Ying-jeou and other Blue Camp leaders allow "this old Blue Camp tail to wag the dog?"
Stephen M. Young wonders why. The Kuomintang probably wonders why as well. Honorary KMT Chairman Lien Chan provided a pertinent answer to this question. "We have no choice. We must ally with the PFP in order to achieve a majority in the legislature." This was true back then. It appears to be true now, But who is to blame? Is Soong too adept at political manipulation? Or is the KMT simply too inept? More importantly, how long will voters on Taiwan allow politicians to lead them around by the nose?
與宋楚瑜會談後的楊甦棣在電文中特別加了一段評論：「宋楚瑜是狡詐（wily）、沒有原則的政治人物，他操作小小的立院派系（總數二百二十一席中的二十一席），在重大議題中，取得關鍵影響力。人們似乎都很怕得罪宋，可能因為他懷抱著國民黨過去許多難堪的祕密。問題在於，馬英九和其他藍營領導人，到底要容許「這樣的藍營老尾巴搖狗」（this aging blue tail to wag the dog）到什麼時候？」