The Beginning of the End, Part V
Ma Ying-jeou’s Triumph
December 6, 2005
During the 2004 Republic of China Presidential Election, incumbent Chen Shui-bian staged a phony Wag the Dog “assassination attempt,” then rigged the poll results, cheating challenger Lien Chan out of a victory he won fair and square, and the 53% majority of ROC citizens who voted for him out of the leader of their choice.
One year later, Lien Chan completed a history-making “Journey of Peace” to the Chinese mainland, during which he eclipsed Chen Shui-bian and performed an end run around the Taiwan independence movement. Lien Chan had triumphed over illegal usurper Chen Shui-bian.
Two years later, on December 3, 2005, the Pan Blue camp, under the leadership of Ma Ying-jeou, swept the “three in one” County Magistrate, Mayoral, County and City Councilor Elections. Pan Blue candidates won 17 out of the 23 County Magistrate seats. The KMT accounted for 14, up from its previous nine. The New Party and People First Party accounted for another two. An independent accounted for one more.
The DPP on the other hand, lost three of its previous nine seats, hanging on to only six in its traditional stronghold in the Southwest, and several of those by the skin of their teeth. Lee Teng-hui’s Deep Green TSU failed to win a single seat.
Ma Ying-jeou, Lien’s successor, had scored a second, deeply satisfying triumph over Chen Shui-bian, the DPP, and the Taiwan independence movement.
As readers of this column know, I have long maintained that the US major media invariably gets Taiwan politics wrong. Not just slightly off, but dead wrong, the diametric opposite of the truth.
This time, I’m happy to say, they have gotten it right. According to a December 3, 2005 Associated Press news article entitled “Taiwan opposition wins local elections”:
TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan’s opposition Nationalist Party won an overwhelming victory in island-wide municipal elections Saturday, putting it in position to push its agenda of reunification with [mainland] China during the 2008 presidential campaign.
With more than 97 percent of the votes counted, Nationalist candidates or Nationalist allies won 17 of the 23 constituencies, while candidates of President Chen Shui-bian’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party were assured of victory in six, according to results from the Central Election Commission. The results constituted a huge vote of confidence in Nationalist Party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou, who was elected to office five months ago. He likely will lead the party’s ticket in the 2008 presidential poll.
The Nationalists’ policy is eventual reunification with rival [mainland] China. Beijing has refused to talk with Chen because it sees him as a strong supporter of Taiwanese independence, unalterably opposed to the Nationalist platform of reunification.
On Thursday, Ma dramatically raised the stakes in the municipal elections, saying he would step down as Nationalist chief if the Nationalists failed to win more than half of the 21 major races.
Ma strongly supported former Nationalist chairman Lien Chan’s groundbreaking visit to the mainland earlier this year and expressed hope that he would be the leader to break the long-standing enmity between Taipei and Beijing. In contrast to the Nationalists, Chen and the DPP support strengthening the island’s status as a self-governing entity. In the final days of the campaign, Chen repeatedly referred to the Nationalists’ China policies in an effort to energize independence-leaning voters. “The result of these local elections will decide the future of cross-straits relations,” he said.
The 2005 three in one elections should, in principle, have remained nothing more than routine local elections. But Chen Shui-bian insisted on turning them into something more, and Ma Ying-jeou obliged him. As a result, the 2005 three in one elections were upgraded to a defacto referendum on Taiwan independence.
The outcome of that referendum speaks for itself. The Chinese people on Taiwan voted, for the umpteenth time, in favor of Chinese reunification and against Taiwan independence.
So why did Chen Shui-bian do it? Didn’t he know the December 2005 three in one elections would probably be a repeat of the March 2004 Presidential Election, before Chen regime flunkies in the Central Election Commission reverse-engineered the results? Didn’t he know the elections would probably be a repeat of the December 2004 Legislative Election, which confirmed that Chen lost the Presidential Election? Didn’t he know that the elections would probably be a Pan Blue victory and a Pan Green defeat?
Of course he did. Annette Lu, during the week before election day, freely conceded that her own party would be defeated at the polls.
Chen upped the ante anyway because he knew the elections were not going to be routine. Six straight years of brazen, in-your-face Chen regime looting of the public coffers had turned run of the mill local elections into a vote of non-confidence in Chen individually, in the DPP and TSU as political parties, and in Taiwan independence as a political goal.
Rather than bear personal responsibility for a catastrophic defeat for the DPP politically, and the Taiwan independence movement ideologically, Chen attempted to spread the responsibility around by playing the always reliable “Us vs. Them” card.
Self-hating Sinophobic and Japanophilic appeals to an artificially fabricated “Taiwanese, not Chinese” national identity have always been able to consolidate support for Pan Green political candidates in the past. Chen assumed that such appeals would work again this time, successfully shifting voter attention away from his own malfeasance.
Chen figured wrong. Twelve years of Pan Green misrule under “Father of Taiwan” Lee Teng-hui began the hollowing out of Taiwan’s economy. Six years of Pan Green misrule under “Son of Taiwan” Chen Shui-bian completed the process, leaving Taiwan the poorest of the Four Asian Tigers, with unemployment at record highs and one person on Taiwan committing suicide every two hours.
Damning evidence revealed that “President” Chen, “Premier” Frank Hsieh, and Chen campaign benefactor and Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC) Vice Chairman Chen Min-hsien were embezzling astronomical sums from the KRTC project and Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) project.
Damning evidence revealed that First Lady Wu Shu-chen, Deputy Secretary General of the Presidential Office Chen Che-nan, and Deputy Chief of Staff Ma Yung-chen were engaged in insider trading, right inside the Presidential Palace, and even misusing Presidential Office clerical staff for the purpose.
Damning evidence revealed that the “Two Chens,” Chen Che-nan and Chen Min-hsien, were engaged in laundering their ill-gotten gains at gambling casinos on Cheju Island, Korea and Macau.
In the face of such damning evidence, even DPP party faithful were no longer buying the Politically Correct Pan Green “We Taiwanese have to stick together against those Chinese” line.
On December 3, 2005, the Chinese people on Taiwan did what Chinese people throughout China’s 5,000 year history have always done when corrupt, decadent regimes indifferent to their survival brought them to the brink of ruin. They rebelled. To paraphrase the famous line from Paddy Chayevsky’s wicked satire “Network,” they decided they were “mad as hell, and not going to take it any more.”
The result was a repudiation of Chen Shui-bian as a political leader, of the DPP as a political party, and of Taiwan independence as a political ideal.
The result was a ringing affirmation of KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming’s calls for Pan Blue unity, an unmistakable rejection of PFP Chairman James Soong’s partisan selfishness, and a resounding reaffirmation of Chinese reunification as an overarching, long term political objective.
As if to underscore the significance of the election results, the Taiwan Stock Exchange index shot up 119 points, amost 2 percent, on the very first trading day following the elections, to close at a 16 week high.
According to a Tuesday, Dec 06, 2005, BLOOMBERG news report “TAIEX closes at 16-week high”:
OPTIMISM: Investors responded favorably to the KMT’s gains in Saturday’s elections, sending the TAIEX up almost 2 percent, with fund inflows also boosting the NT dollar. The TAIEX index climbed to a 16-week high after gains by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in Saturday’s local government elections boosted hopes of better relations with [mainland] China … “The setback for the pro-independence ruling party should reduce worries over independence and ease political risks,” said Victor Shih, who helps manage the equivalent of US$2.4 billion at HSBC Asset Management Taiwan in Taipei. “The government may also adopt a more open policy toward [mainland] China.” he said. The TAIEX rose 119.36, or 1.9 percent, to 6,348.31 at the 1:30pm close in Taipei, the highest since Aug. 12 … About eight stocks gained for each that fell. Futures due this month climbed 2.3 percent to 6,363. The outcome of the election, in which the KMT won a majority of local government seats, was a setback for President Chen Shui-bian and is seen as a barometer for the 2008 presidential campaign … Recent polls predicted a poor performance for the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The election “is a strong message to the government that people are not satisfied with its performance,” said Andrew Yang, secretary-general of the Council for Advanced Policy Studies. “President Chen should try to be more conciliatory with the opposition to deliver more effective, better linkages with [mainland] China,” he said. Boosted by the election result, the New Taiwan dollar also rose yesterday, adding to its two-week gain on optimism a new government will end the troubled relationship with [mainland] China and deal with allegations of corruption. “The election result is what overseas investors were hoping for and the fund inflows will help the Taiwan dollar,” said Gary Huang, a currency trader at Union Bank of Taiwan in Taipei. “The result may also lead to more conciliatory policies toward [mainland] China.”