Ma’s major miscalculation on Wang lobbying scandal

The China Post news staff

Judging from the recent turn of events, the “lobbying scandal” involving Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, and former Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu may very well become the greatest political crisis that the current administration will ever see. Judging by the ferocity of the attacks launched by the DPP against President Ma Ying-jeou, this incident may very well prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. When the president held a press conference with Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Vice President Wu Den-yih to condemn Wang’s apparent implication in the scandal, the president either didn’t care or didn’t anticipate a blowback, at least not to this degree. Supposedly, the focus was going to be whether or not Wang had lobbied on Ker’s behalf to prevent an appeal against his case, in which the DPP whip was indicted on suspicion of violating the Criminal Code and the Business Entity Accounting Act; instead, the focus has turned to whether or not the president “abused” his power by “ordering” an “illegal” wiretapping. Already, he has been accused by the DPP of violating the constitution, of committing an offense greater than that of former U.S. President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and also of leading Taiwan back to an era of “White Terror.”

This really is a point of no return. What Ma’s advisors probably didn’t take into account, if the president actually consulted his advisors prior to holding the press conference, was the fact that the administration currently enjoys spectacularly low poll ratings. Perhaps they did and believed that ousting an allegedly corrupt politician among the Kuomintang’s ranks would help boost the administration’s image. Whatever their expectations were, they probably didn’t foresee that Wang would be welcomed by a swarm of supporters at the airport after arriving back to Taiwan yesterday to deal with the mess. There is a reason why Wang has served as the speaker of the Legislative Yuan for more than a decade. By taking action against Wang, Ma has made a lot of enemies in the Legislature. Enemies across party lines. Wang admits that he had spoken to Ker and that he had called the Justice Ministry, urging prosecutors not to file for an appeal just for the sake of doing so. However, he denies asking prosectors not to file for an appeal, and argues that his actions did not equate to “lobbying.” Politics is a game. It is a game in which survival of the fittest is the only rule. If Ma had approached Wang and Tseng in private, and if he had slapped them on the wrist in private, he probably would have created two diehard allies. Instead, he went full force against a man who has helmed the Legislature for more than a decade, a man who has apparently done “favors” for ruling party and opposition lawmakers alike, a man whom the public perceives as a “soft spoken, conciliatory figure.” The president has chosen to take arms against a sea of troubles. Unless someone in the Presidential Office has a trick up his sleeve, as far as the circumstances stand, it remains to be seen whether the administration will end with a bang or a whimper. Meanwhile, to those who accuse the president of dismissing the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, in light of his condemnation against Wang, one would like to ask: whatever happend to that same principle when former Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih and Taipei Councilor Lai Su-ru were first accused of corruption? Apparently, presumption of innocence doesn’t exactly apply to everyone.