Tsai Ing-wen Cannot Evade Questions About TaiMed
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 21, 2011
Summary: The presidential election is only 20 days away. The Blue and Green camps have begun bloody hand to hand combat, This may not lead to a lose/lose situation, but it will lead to voter disgust. But regardless, this election will determine the leader of our nation for the next four years, Can someone who cannot be trusted lead the nation? The ruling and opposition parties must live up to the strict standards the public has set for its national leaders.
Full Text Below:
A politician's most stringent test takes place during an election. That is when he or she is examined under a microscope by the entire nation. No candidate can avoid this close scrutiny of his or her conduct. This is true for the TaiMed corruption scandal. This is true for the Fubon shark fin soup banquet as well. Ruling and opposition party leaders competing for high office adopt certain attitudes during such scrutiny, Voters take into account these attitudes when casting their votes. KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou and DDP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen have revealed their respective strengths and weakness by the attitudes they adopted during such scrutiny.
Faced with fierce questioning over the TaiMed corruption scandal, the DPP responded by dredging up the shark fin soup banquet issue, an old issue that was resolved long ago. The DPP had nothing new to offer. Ma Ying-jeou responded calmly. He held a press conference. He sat patiently and allowed the media to question him, over and over again. Consider his attitude from the perspective of campaign strategy. Contrast this with Tsai Ing-wen's response to the TaiMed corruption scandal. Tsai's sole response was a statement saying she and her family did not profit illegally from TaiMed. As soon as she finished her statement, she turned and walked away. She refused to answer reporters' questions. Ma Ying-jeou's implicit message to the voters was: If Tsai Ing-wen has nothing to hide, why not clear the air?
Tsai Ing-wen angrily accused the Ma administration of using the machinery of government to harass her legally, and ruin her politically. But apply the same standards to both candidates. Surely no one has forgotten the recently concluded centennial celebrations? The show cost over 200 million dollars. CCA Chairman Emile Sheng stepped forward and responded to questioning by DPP, day after day. He voluntarily submitted himself to prosecutors for investigation. The prosecutors moved even more quickly in his case than they did in the TaiMed corruption scandal. Once prosecutors began questioning people and conducting searches, Emile Sheng voluntarily resigned. Throughout the process, he never uttered a single word accusing the DPP of electioneering, or the prosecutors of having ulterior motives for their investigation.
TaiMed was the Chen administration's major biotech project. Tsai Ing-wen went from being vice premier to board chairman of a biotech company. Since the vice premier was not the competent authority, she was not necessarily in violation of the articles prohibiting revolving door employment. But Tsai was up to her neck in the case. She participated fully in the authoring of the relevant legislation. She invested her family's money in the company. She definitely has a problem in terms of ethics and social perception. Government support for industry did not begin today. But public officials providing grants to private companies never became chairmen of the companies to which they provided grants. Public officials never owned a single share of stock in companies to which they provided grants. Still less did they invest their own family's funds.
The Tsai family sought funding from the National Development Fund. The change in ruling parties prevented the funds from actually being disbursed. After Tsai Ing-wen was elected DPP Chairman, she sold off her holdings. Clearly she understood that politics and business don't mix. But the Tsai family soon formed another company, also named TaiMed. Once again the family sought funding from the National Development Fund. This time the funding was approved and received. Even after Tsai Ing-wen stepped down as vice premier, she ordered National Development Fund officials to come to her residence and report on TaiMed matters, This, for the National Development Fund, was unprecedented, and of course, highly controversial.
Tsai Ing-wen insists that she did not violate civil service prohibitions against revolving door employment, because she sold her shares to private enterprise. She argues that the government did not actually disburse the funds, and that she did not actually profit from the transaction. But she could not explain her suddenly failure to avoid conflicts of interest. Perhaps she had no intention of remaining in politics. But if one returns to the political path, one can hardly excuse oneself by saying it was never a problem before. Now it has become a major problem. Why? Because now she is running for president.
If Tsai Ing-wen was not seeking high office. TaiMed would probably have remained unnoticed. But because she is running for president, she must subject herself to closer scrutiny than the average person. When Ma Ying-jeou ran for president in 2008, he had to endure the discretionary fund storm. He had to do ths same with the shark fin soup banquet. Ma Ying-jeou is merely seeking re-election. The DPP has been unable to dig up any dirt on him. So they dusted off an old issue and served it up again. Nevertheless Ma must patiently endure the ordeal, just as if he were starting from nothing.
DPP spin doctors have taken old news and maliciously presented it out of context. They have accused Ma Ying-jeou of twice attending banquets where shark fin soup was served. Was this merely an honest foul up, or a malicious attempt to frame Ma and discredit him? Ma Ying-jeou turned down Fubon's campaign contributions. Fubon's two company heads, one young and one old, made this clear, both inside and outside the courtroom. The only time Fubon ever made a campaign contribution to the KMT was in 2004. The receipt has been turned over to the court, Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng, who accepted the contribution, also stepped forward and explained. Yet the DPP's TV spots persist in rehashing this dead issue. Is this what Tsai Ing-wen meant by "negative campaigning?"
The DPP's negative campaigning is not confined to this. More recently DPP elder Frank Hsieh trotted out the old "Wu Den-yih scandal" tapes. Prominent TV spots cited it in an attempt to discredit the KMT. As far as the courts are concerned, the case is closed. Put simply, the tapes were faked, but they were not given to Chen Chun-sheng by Frank Hsieh. Hsieh claims the fake tapes led to his defeat in Taipei Mayoral Election. But Hsieh overlooks the fact that the gap between the winner and loser was too great. His defeat was not a result of the fraudulent tapes. The DPP's ads were of absolutely no benefit to Hsieh's campaign. Kaohsiung Mayor Wu Den-yih lost his bid for reelection that year as a result of the fake tapes. That was a real instance in which fake tapes determined the outcome of an election.
The presidential election is only 20 days away. The Blue and Green camps have begun bloody hand to hand combat, This may not lead to a lose/lose situation, but it will lead to voter disgust. But regardless, this election will determine the leader of our nation for the next four years, Can someone who cannot be trusted lead the nation? The ruling and opposition parties must live up to the strict standards the public has set for its national leaders.