Ma Ying-jeou: Crossing the Rubicon
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 10, 2013
Summary: The Wang scandal will be dealt with today by the KMT Disciplinary Committee. Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT are having a showdown over national policy. "As president, I could not evade the issue." Ma has burned his bridges. Today's verdict will be a KMT vote of confidence in Ma Ying-jeou. It will reflect the KMT's position on constitutional rule and criminal justice. This is a critical moment in Ma Ying-jeou's political life. It is an acid test for the Republic of China's constitutional framework and rule of law.
Full text below:
Today the KMT Disciplinary Committee will tackle the Wang Jin-pyng scandal. This is a watershed moment in Wang Jin-pyng's political career. Party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou faces enormous political risks. The final resolution of the scandal is no longer in Ma Ying-jeou's hands, but in those of the KMT Disciplinary Committee.
Ma Ying-jeou has turned the Wang scandal over to the KMT Disciplinary Committee. By doing so, Ma is attempting to abide by the principles of the constitution and the rules of the criminal justice system. By doing so, he is also throwing down the gauntlet before the Kuomintang. If the KMT Disciplinary Committee decides against revoking Wang's party membership, and against expelling him from the party, it will amount to a vote of no confidence in Ma. Ma will probably be forced to take a stand and resign as party chairman. If Wang Jin-pyng continues serving as Speaker fo the Legislature, the political situation will deteriorate precipitously. But if the KMT Disciplinary Committee expels Wang Jin-pyng from the party, the political situation may become even more divided. Ma Ying-jeou will be forced to clean up the mess. Therefore no matter what the KMT Disciplinary Committee decides, it will be a headache for Ma Ying-jeou. Ma has come a long way. Yet this is how things have turned out. He is a victim of circumstance, and has little say in the matter.
The influence peddling case exploded. Ma Ying-jeou reacted with utter passivity. Huang Shi-ming seized the initiative and reported the Wang scandal. But Ma Ying-jeou failed to react. Once he became aware of the scandal, he could hardly order Huang Shi-ming to cover it up. In fact, Huang Shi-ming too was passive. The Special Investigation Unit reported the case to him. He could hardly order the Special Investigation Unit to cover it up. That was why once the scandal exploded, Ma Ying-jeou could do nothing more about it. It was a fait accompli. His only recourse was to call for party disciplinary action. After all, this was a major scandal that affected constitutional rule and criminal justice. If Ma Ying-jeou refused to act, the public would say "If Wang Jin-pyng refuses to step down, Ma Ying-jeou must." Just such a demand appeared online the day after the Wang scandal exploded.
Ma Ying-jeou is awaiting a KMT Disciplinary Committee decision. He is about to cross the Rubicon. Cross-Strait policy and judicial reform make up Ma Ying-jeou's political legacy. Ma Ying-jeou need not hesitate or compromise when it comes to the Speaker of the Legislature's influence peddling. The scandal may lead to political divisions, to turbulence over the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant, and TISA. But these are all ephemera. President Ma Ying-jeou champions judicial reform. Aiding and abetting Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng's influence peddling would consitute a flagrant betrayal of constitutional rule and criminal justice. It would constitute a permanent blot on Ma Ying-jeou's political record. Therefore upholding constitutional rule and criminal justice means Ma Ying-jeou must cross the Rubicon.
Ma Ying-jeou knows the scandal could lead to political fragmentation. But he also knows that it must be dealt with. Otherwise the public will insist "If Wang Jin-pyng does not step down, Ma Ying-jeou must." Wang Jin-pyng is not under fire for helping Ker Chen-ming win government contracts. He is under fire for violating constitutional law by engaing in "judicial influence peddling." This is an area of constitutional law that has no gray areas. The case is black and white. Ma Ying-jeou has no choice. This is harsh political reality. Therefore Ma Ying-jeou must cross the Rubicon.
Ma Ying-jeou must be feeling both frustration and pity. As mentioned earlier, once news of the scandal broke, Ma became a victim of circumstances. One cannot say he arranged for a "political power struggle." Ma Ying-jeou did not conspire to have Wang Jin-pyng prosecuted for judicial influence peddling. After all, Ma Ying-jeou must deal with the "political power struggle" that will inevitably follow. This was never something he wanted. The scandal has reignited the peculiar partisan politics that plague the Legislative Yuan. It has brought the nation to a standstill. It has torn society in two. Self-styled "champions of constitutional democracy" are now attempting to whitewash the opposition DPP whip's judicial influence peddling. Speaker of the Legislature Wang has provided Chief Convener Ker a bully pulpit. Chief Convener Ker has provided the Speaker of the Legislature Wang political cover as a "champion of constitutional democracy." Had the Wang Jin-pyng influence peddling scandal not exploded, who could have unraveled this tangled web within the Legislative Yuan? Who knew Wang Jin-pyng would blow his own cover, and put Ma Ying-jeou in such an uncomfortable, heroic, and tragic position.
Ma Ying-jeou expressed clear disapproval of the Legislative Yuan judicial influence peddling scandal. This leaves him in an unassailable position regarding constitutional rule and criminal justice. No one, including Wang Jin-pyng-pyng and Ker Chien-ming, can argue that influence peddling by the Speaker of the Legislature and a political party whip is consistent with constitutional rule and criminal justice. Their evasions and self-justifications prove they know judicial influence peddling is a clear violation of constitutional law. Ma Ying-jeou need not apologize for his stand on constitutional rule and criminal justice, to either the public or posterity.
The Wang scandal will be dealt with today by the KMT Disciplinary Committee. Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT are having a showdown over national policy. "As president, I could not evade the issue." Ma has burned his bridges. Today's verdict will be a KMT vote of confidence in Ma Ying-jeou. It will reflect the KMT's position on constitutional rule and criminal justice. This is a critical moment in Ma Ying-jeou's political life. It is an acid test for the Republic of China's constitutional framework and rule of law.
2013.09.11 02:40 am