Reminders for Ma and Wang in a Lose/Lose Battle
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
October 4, 2013
Summary: The future may bring inconceivable change. But for the time being, neither Wang nor Ma will emerge a winner. President Ma's plight requires no comment. He was dealt a pat hand, yet this is how he played it. What more can one say? Conversely, Speaker of the Legislature Wang has not, contrary to popular opinion, "scored two consecutive victories." His internal injuries are no less serious than Ma's.
Full text below:
A "political struggle" has raged for most of this month. The storm has yet to subside. But cool-headed observation tells us two things. One. Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng has temporarily saved his rice bowl. Two. He has temporarily abandoned the KMT and become a Speaker of the Legislature with no party affiliation. The DPP launched a combined public opinion battle and legal battle. But these were merely "spit battles." They involved empty rhetoric. Once the boat has glided by, the water will leave no trace of its passing. On the other hand, a Speaker of the Legislature who has no party affiliation whatsoever, amounts to a real change in the situation. It will definitely affect future politics.
The future may bring inconceivable change. But for the time being, neither Wang nor Ma will emerge a winner. President Ma's plight requires no comment. He was dealt a pat hand, yet this is how he played it. What more can one say? Conversely, Speaker of the Legislature Wang has not, contrary to popular opinion, "scored two consecutive victories." His internal injuries are no less serious than Ma's. Their future relationship will be troubled. How will the two perceive their own plight? How will the two cope with future difficulties? That is the real key. We would like to offer Ma and Wang the following suggestions and reminders.
First, we would like to offer Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng the following reminder.
One. End the chaos in the legislature, as soon as possible. Allow the legislature to return to normal. According to our latest poll, over 70% of the public is unhappy with the efficiency and performance of current legislators. Over 60% think interparty consultations must be restarted and expanded. Over 40% of the public supports the dissolution of the legislature. This is abundantly clear. The public wants a Legislative Yuan that acts as a gatekeeper for legislation. It does not want a legislature that leaves the government paralyzed. True, the Speaker of the Legislature now has no partisan political fetters. He need no longer pay attention to what Chairman Ma likes or dislikes. He has more maneuvering room than in the past. But that does not mean he can do whatever he pleases, without constraints. On the contrary, polls talk. Any future chaos and gridlock in the legislature will be blamed on him, the Speaker of the Legislature.
Two. The cloud of suspicion surrounding influence peddling among the privileged has dissipated. The KMT appeal was rejected. Put bluntly, the wire tapping may have be questionable. Wang's appeal may have been successful. But that is hardly the same as saying that the public approved of Wang's conduct or considered it legitimate. Wang Jin-pyng and the DPP's Ker Chien-ming cannot excuse their behavior with the public. If they fail to exercise restraint in the future, and persist in making back room deals, they will provoke a storm of controversy. In particular, they will not be allowed to use the Budget Review process as a means of influence peddling.
Three. No matter how reluctant Wang may be, he must mend relations with the president and the executive branch, as soon as possible. He must coordinate with Ma, especially over legislation. If Wang gains the upper hand, he may not use it to worsen the current political impasse in the Legislative Yuan, preventing President Ma and the ruling party from taking action. If he does, public opinion will turn against him. Public sympathy and support for him will evaporate. Major bills, particulary TISA must be allowed to pass .
We would also remind President Ma.
One. You must understand why the situation degenerated as it did. You hurt yourself more than you hurt your opponent. You fought the Romans at Heraclea and scored a Pyrrhic Victory. The results clearly illustrate this. Do not assume that as long as your ends are just, you need not limit yourself to appropriate and reasonable means. From beginning to end, the public rejected your arguments. It could not accept your crude handling of the matter.
Two. You emphasize respect for the law. Therefore you cannot cannot focus exclusively on influence peddling among the privileged, and disregard entirely the Special Investigation Unit's indiscriminate wire tapping. President Ma insists on human rights and the rule of law. This has been his trademark ever since he became involved in politics. But one cannot demand the highest ethical standards for influence peddling among the privileged, while ignoring illegal wire tapping by law enforcement. That merely subjects one to even greater skepticism.
Three. No matter how difficult, the ruling party in the legislature must regroup as soon as possible. Chen Shui-bian was plagued by major scandals. Yet his Praetorian Guard within the Legislative Yuan always rushed to his defense, and supported him to the bitter end. President Ma is not implicated in any scandal. Yet he appears to have committed some unforgivable sin. He battles alone, surrounded by his enemies. The ruling party commands an absolute majority in the Legislative Yuan. Yet it has no stomach for a fight. President Ma, does this not alarm you? Your comrades now have their guns pointed at each other. They are engaged in internecine warfare. President Ma finds himself trapped among party members harboring deep grievances. He finds himself constantly beseiged by outsiders who question his "inner circle." He may as well emerge from his office, and condescend to communicate directly with KMT legislators.
Four. If you believe you are right, then take your case directly to the people. Use language people understand. Use every means at hand to explain your convictions and philosophy. In the United States, when the president clashes with Congress, he invariably appeals directly to the people, and frequently snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.