President Ma must rely on swing votes, not Hu, to win

The China Post news staff

Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party claims her opponent Ma Ying-jeou has China standing behind him as a kingmaker, and has drawn up “five scenarios” to defeat her in the coming presidential election.

Scenario No. 1 is for Hu Jintao and company in Beijing to “electioneer for Ma by sending procurement missions.” China has sent a series of ad hoc missions to purchase goods and farm products, and the opposition party claims the purpose is to canvass votes for the Kuomintang candidate. The second scenario is to “mobilize Taiwan businessmen in China into a group of vote brokers for Ma.” Still another is to get these businessmen to return to Taiwan to vote for President Ma, whereas the last two scenarios aim at “cutting off contributions to Ma’s rival” and “aiding the election of specific members of parliament.” Eligible voters in Taiwan go to the polls next Jan. 14 to elect their president and a new Legislative Yuan, and for lack of an absentee voting system, voters out of the country have to come back home to vote. Of course, Hu wishes Ma would win a second term, and is doing what he can to help his counterpart in Taipei, because Tsai’s election will prove his Taiwan policy bankrupt and he may be condemned for the largess and concessions he has been showing without anything in return. But none of the five scenarios can be successfully staged. As a matter of fact, there is one scenario which, if Hu dare submit, would easily get Ma re-elected: to renounce the use of the power of force to solve the question of Taiwan and remove all missiles from the southeast coast of the Chinese mainland targeting the island. Those missiles are the evidence Ma cited in an interview on the BBC Chinese-language website last week to prove the opposition is wrong in labeling the People’s Republic of China as his kingmaker. “How come Beijing, with all those missiles aimed at Taiwan, is said to be supporting my running for president (again)?” he asked in Chinese in the interview. While talking about all the efforts made to improve relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Ma went on, China refuses to withdraw the missiles, and then asked, again, “aiming those missiles always at me; can it be said (Beijing is) good to me?” Yes, the renouncement of the use of force and removal of the missiles would assure Ma of his easy re-election, just as Saddam Hussein could have helped George Bush the senior easily beat any Democratic candidate by invading Kuwait in 1992 rather than in the late summer of 1990. Operation Desert Storm, which President Bush ordered at the end of the year, made his popularity skyrocket to almost 90 percent; had Hussein unleashed his crack army a year or so later, Bush could have won re-election with almost no contest. Or like Ayatollah Khomeini, who could have allowed Jimmy Carter to outpoll Ronald Reagan in 1980 by ordering the siege of the American embassy in Tehran to be lifted just a couple of weeks before Election Day. Or like General Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina who ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 at a time when Margaret Thatcher was about to lose her UK premiership in the coming general elections. Chairman Hu could be a kingmaker if he wanted to be, and his powerful underlings would go along with him. That’s a very big “if,” of course. Nobody thinks they would, and because of that, Ma has to depend on nothing but the swing voters for help in re-election. They account for almost a third of the electorate and whoever aspires for the highest office of the nation must get at least half of their vote to win. But due to Ma’s poor wooing, he may not have that crucial support.