A Shot Aimed not just at Wang Jin-pyng
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 12, 2013
Summary: The political atmosphere is heating up. Yesterday the KMT Disciplinary
Committee carried out Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's wishes by revoking Wang
Jin-pyng's party membership. This will in turn revoke his status as a
Legislator without Porfolio and his status as Speaker of the
Legislature. The influence peddling scandal continues to simmer.
Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu and Speaker of the Legislature Wang
Jin-pying have been forced to step down, shaking public confidence.
Under the circumstances, how can the DPP remain cavalier about Ker
Chien-ming's role in the scandal?
Full text below:
The political atmosphere is heating up. Yesterday the KMT Disciplinary Committee carried out Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's wishes by revoking Wang Jin-pyng's party membership. This will in turn revoke his status as a Legislator without Porfolio and his status as Speaker of the Legislature. The influence peddling scandal continues to simmer. Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu and Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pying have been forced to step down, shaking public confidence. Under the circumstances, how can the DPP remain cavalier about Ker Chien-ming's role in the scandal?
Ma Ying-jeou's decision may have been wise, or it may have been foolish. It may have been politically profitable, or it may have been politically disastrous. But the shot was fired, and not at Wang alone. It was a shot fired at the entire political establishment and its incorrigible habit of influence peddling. If the Legislative Yuan engages in obstructionism, it will pay a heavy price. If the Minister of Justice considers influence peddling acceptable and refuses to follow the law, he will be forced to resign. These examples should be considered a stern warning to all politicians.
From this day forward, every politician must consider the fate of Wang Jin-pyng. No politician may use his official position to influence executive or judicial branch personnel. Whether he resorts to inducements, threats, "guanxi," or payoffs makes no difference. Wang paid a heavy price. Whatever reputation he might have amassed over his lifetime has been lost. Conversely, any executive or judicial branch officials targeted by corrupt politicians or businessmen will have every reason to "just say no," and to inform their superiors. It is their duty to uphold their own integrity and imparitality.
Only such a perspective will enable the public to recognize when such a treacherous and unpredictable situation unfolds. The influence peddling scandal led to high-level personnel change. The opposition DPP stood by Wang Jin-pyngping. Some in the ruling KMT did as well. This has increased the resistance Ma Ying-jeou must overcome. The resistance has been further exacerbated by accusations of conspiracy, of public settling of private debts, and of police state abuse of power. All of these have made Ma Ying-jeou's Draconian decision the subject of endless debate.
Wang Jin-pyng's wide ranging connections offer the most obvious contrast. So many political insiders and outsiders are so eager to speak out on his behalf. This enables him to appear righteous even when he is guilty as charged. Meanwhile, Ma Ying-jeou and Huang Shi-ming high-minded sabre-rattling viewed as harsh and unreasonable. This is a political paradox. Right and wrong are frequently at odds with feelings. Excessive concern for feelings inevitably blurs right and wrong. Excessive emphasis on right and wrong inevitably ignores feelings. Ma Ying-jeou and Wang Jin-pyng represent two different archetypes.
A democracy must abide by the rule of law. Balancing right and wrong against feelings is dangerous. Feelings and "guanxi" depend upon "gray areas." They are fundamentally inconsistent with the rule of law. One might even say that the reason democracy on Taiwan cannot advance, is its overvaluing of "feelings" and its undervaluing of the rule of law. This makes it impossible to promote the rule of law. If people set aside political struggle and apply the rule of law to the Wang corruption scandal, they may actually learn somthing from the scandal.
Consider political reality. Ma and Wang may have grievances. But people are more concerned about political ideals than private vendettas. They hope to shatter the barriers ostructing political progress on Taiwan. Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng is stepping down from his duties. Confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties will lead to dramatic changes in the balance of power. The political situation is sure to become increasingly precarious. But at least now the deadlock can be broken. Politics can be transformed. The key is where do the people want the country to go?
In all fairness, how Ma Ying-jeou dealt with Wang Jin-pyng is worth debating. First, revoking Wang's status as Speaker of the Legislature was an important matter. The process demands semantic precision. The procedures must be by the book. One cannot be too careful. Secondly, President Ma called the influence peddling case "the most shameful event in the history of democracy and the rule of law on Taiwan." That was a bit of an exaggeration. Compared to President Chen Shui-bian's corruption, this was small potatoes. Thirdly, the ruling KMT is overly secretive about the identity of KMT Disciplinary Committee members. Ma Ying-jeou called attention to the "specified punishments" beforehand. He personally attended the session and spoke out against Wang. From a procedural perspective, this may invite criticism.
In any event, President Ma's political support has never been so low. He decided to impose Draconian punishments on Wang Jin-pyng with little concern for political repercussions. He established a rule of law benchmark for influence peddling prosecution. He demonstrated his determination to battle influence peddling to the bitter end. His blow was personally risky but well delivered. This may be the most courageous battle on behalf of the rule of law and against corruption on Taiwan. Most importantly, he must face wave upon wave of counterattacks. He must remain calm. He must rally the support of the public.
2013.09.12 02:36 am