Thursday, June 02, 2005


Meanwhile, a KMT legislator, one Wu Den-yi, also reiterated that Lien had no interest in seeking re-election, suggesting that there was no implied disloyalty to Lien in Ma's running. "Arriving at KMT headquarters yesterday, Lien was tight-lipped when asked to comment on Wu's remark," the Times reported (wasn't Karamovski wearing a hat last year? Why isn't he wearing a hat?) "Wu also said that Lien had told him personally that he would not seek another term as party chairman." But then there were media reports that Lien (so mysterious that he was intangible) had called Wu in and rebuked him for saying these things. This was not denied by the KMT. "Commenting on the report, KMT spokewoman Cheng Li-wen said Lien made the move because he did not want the public to think he is siding with either Wang or Ma in the race." Huh? Wang gave further credibility to the idea that rebuking Wu was in the name of impartiality by enthusiastically endorsing it.

"But Wang also repeated his commitment that if Lien decided to seek another term he would quit the race for the chairmanship. 'We should allow Mr. Lien to think about this and make his own mind up,' he said. Wang also said that he could not understand why a senior party member (Wu) had accused party leaders of impeding democratic reform within the party. 'The spirit of democracy is diversity. If someone has made such an accusation he has probably failed to comprehend the spirit of democracy,' he said. Got that? Diversity is the spirit of democracy, which is why if the incumbent lets it be known through winks and nods that he wishes to run again, all other candidates should voluntarily remove themselves from the race and allow him to run unopposed.

The effect of Ma's not removing himself from the race has been to flush to the surface the palace intriguers; at least some of the palace intriguers. Lien continues to be subtle as the wind, a spectre moving in the twilight. But 22 members of the party's Central Committee (would this be the same "impartial" Central Committee that Lien designated to shoot impartial questions at the candidates in the format he insisted on instead of a normal debate format?) signed a petition "begging" him to serve another term. Then a group of elderly supporters with the words "support Lien to save the nation" on their caps got down on their knees to dramatize the request. Ma's father,Ma Ho Ling, an old KMT warhorse whose connections gave Ma his start in the KMT so many years ago, weighed in with the opinion that his son should not run if Lien wished to run. Then, as if to underline that we are not dealing with people here who have the slightest inkling of what democratic, modern societies are about, he offered helpfully that he would consider killing himself if his son did not withdraw. Now, my first thought on hearing this was that we may be dealing with an Alzheimer's patient here. The truly scary thing is that, on closer inspection, this does not appear to be the case. Ma Ho Ling appears to be, in the medical if not the colloquial sense, entirely in his right mind. He's just, like so many of the KMT old guard, from another time, another world altogether. As I was beginning this essay, I was watching on the news a Taipei City Councilwoman named Lu roundly lighting into Ma for his lack of filial piety and for not caring whether his father lived or died. Ma, deadpan, kept replying throughout the tirade "Thank you. Thank you for your concern. My whole family thanks you for your concern about my father's well-being." Ma's sister later showed up at one of his campaign events to make clear that he was by no means isolated within his family. Amazing.