me be clear, Lien is no dummy. Lien is plenty shrewd. He is a
billionaire, among the wealthiest men on the island. How did Lien,
nominally a civil servant for his entire adult life, accumulate
such a vast fortune? Lien claims his mother made some shrewd real
bet she did. She and Hillary Clinton should sit down over afternoon
tea and discuss real estate and cattle futures.
Chan often travels across town to lunch with his extremely affluent
mother. KMT sycophants cite this as evidence of Lien’s "filial
piety." How does Lien pull off this admirable act of Confucian
virtue in gridlocked Taipei? His two hundred man motorcycle police
escort blocks off Taipei streets along the entire length of his
travel route so his limousine can reach his restaurant without
slowing for a single traffic light.
working stiffs attempting to cross the street for a NT $70 (US
$2) "bian dang," or "lunch box," a cheap proletarian
lunch consisting of rice, meat, and two veggies, must patiently
wait for his Royal Highness to pass before they can attend to
their own hunger pangs. Is it necessary to discuss the feelings
Lien’s imperial arrogance evokes in Taiwan’s common folk?
public demeanor during Taiwan’s
9-21 Great Earthquake hardly enhanced his image. When a hysterical,
weeping woman whose child was trapped under a collapsed building
clutched at the Vice-president, beseeching him to please save
her baby, Lien’s reflex was not to hold her and comfort her, but
to tear himself away.
the way, here’s a question for Taiwan Lobbyists and China-bashers,
or is that redundant? In what "open, vigorous democracy"
does a "democratically-elected" president get to "hand
pick" his successor?
TERROR, THE SEQUEL
Teng-hui, seeing Soong firmly in the lead, decided something had
to be done. Lee initiated an all out, no holds barred campaign
of state-sponsored libel and slander against Soong.
went on television and openly accused Soong of embezzling KMT
funds. I won’t go into the Byzantine details of Lee’s wild allegations
here. They are readily available on the net. Singapore’s Straits
Times is an excellent source.
to say that Lee’s charges actually backfire on both Lee and the
KMT, because the funds in question originate from a huge KMT slush
fund, controlled by none other than KMT Party Chairman Lee Teng-hui
matter. "Mr. Democracy" mobilized the immense political
and financial resources of Taiwan’s "democratic" government
and aimed it like a howitzer at the hapless James Soong. Every
ministry of the ROC Central Government, including those with no
legal authority whatsoever to investigate private citizens like
Soong, took part.
Teng-hui did what former American president Richard Nixon did
when he sicced the IRS and FBI on his political enemies. Only
Lee Teng-hui made Richard Nixon look like a piker. Lee did everything
Nixon did, only far more flagrantly, and on a far grander scale.
The KMT, lest one forget, with assets very conservatively estimated
at US$7 Billion, is the wealthiest political party in the world,
wealthier by far than even America’s Republican and Democratic
"White Terror, the Sequel" succeeded in generating enough
ambivalence about Soong in the minds of less resolute, borderline
Soong supporters. At this point Soong’s numbers fell from the
mid 30% range to the mid 20% range.
Soong probably didn’t know what Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime
Minister Anwar Ibrahim felt like being accused not only of corruption
but of sodomy, apparently a felony offense in his country, by
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammed. Well he does now. In
fact I’ll bet Soong feels like he’s been sodomized front, back
AND THE GENERAL MANAGER
perceptive woman political analyst summed up Lee’s disingenuous
allegations on a cable television talk show rather nicely.
happened between Lee Teng-hui and James Soong, she said, was like
what happens when a powerful but unfaithful CEO keeps a mistress,
unbeknownst to his wife, his board of directors, and the general
of public exposure, the CEO orders his company’s General Manager
to make out the rent checks for his little love nest, i.e., his
mistress’ conveniently located luxury apartment. The General Manager,
in no position to say no, not if he values his job, clicks his
heels and obeys.
enough, the affair comes to light. What does the CEO do? He points
the finger at his General Manager, saying "Your name is on
the checks! Obviously you were having the affair with THAT woman!
What does any of this have to do with me?"
STATE CONTROLLED MEDIA
Big Three broadcast television networks are either owned or under
the indirect control of Lee Teng-hui’s corrupt but powerful KMT.
The three networks are TTV, CTV, and CTS. TTV is owned and operated
by the Taiwan Provincial Government, or what’s left of it. CTV
is owned and operated by none other than the Kuomintang itself.
CTS is owned and operated by the ROC military.
dissidents’ sole recourse, aside from the internet, is what is
referred to locally as "The Fourth Channel" i.e., cable.
The problem with cable is that even the cable market is dominated
by two giant conglomerates, the heads of which are cronies of,
you guessed it, Lee Teng-hui.
containing editorial content critical of or displeasing to "Mr.
Democracy" gets yanked off the air, PDQ. Recently pressure
has come down on Li AO, Taiwan’s Vaclav Havel/Rush Limbaugh, for
his acerbic on-air criticisms of Lee Teng-hui’s flagrant corruption,
covert separatism, and obsequious Japanophilia.
you’ve been smeared by the KMT’s Joseph Goebbels style propaganda
machine , good luck trying to clear your good name.
ONE FROM COLUMN B...
enough, wavering Soong supporters did not shift their allegiance
to either Lien Chan or Chen Shui-bian, but to the "undecided"
column. This confirms that many ROC voters, like many American
voters this year, want no truck with either major party candidate.
The waverers would sooner boycott the election altogether, rather
than cast their ballots for either of the two major party candidates.
They are disgusted with Lien, the corrupt "business as usual"
candidate. At the same time they don’t trust Chen, the "Who’s
afraid of WWIII?" separatist fanatic.
they have adopted a wait and see attitude about Soong, wanting
to verify whether he’s really guilty of the wild allegations leveled
against him by the KMT propaganda machine before making their
has recovered somewhat, although not quite to pre-smear levels.
Some rather clumsy damage control by the Soong campaign committee
has pulled Soong’s support back up into the upper 20% range.
gross violation of the principle of administrative neutrality
has been roundly condemned on Taiwan as a regression to Generalissimo
Chiang Kai-shek’s "White Terror," or for that matter,
a Mao Zedong’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution "struggle
campaigns." Taiwan Lobbyists and China-bashers, pay attention.
"Mr. Democracy" has set back ROC democracy, such as
it is, thirty years, in as many days.
prompted Lee to risk undermining his carefully cultivated, and
totally phony "Mr. Democracy" foreign media image, bought
and paid for at enormous ROC taxpayer expense?
Teng-hui, the latest buzz from inside the ROC Ministry of Foreign
Affairs has it, is running scared. Lee is about to wet his pants
at the prospect of what might happen to him if James Soong wins.
As dense as Lee might be, and that’s pretty damned dense, Lee
is not so dense he has forgotten what happened to sundry other
corrupt Asian strongmen, specifically Chun Doo-hwan and Roe Tae-woo
of South Korea, and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
MUST step down in May 2000. He sure as hell isn’t looking forward
to it . He has no choice. When Lee decided he coveted the mantle
of "Mr. Democracy," he got what he wanted. At the same
time, he painted himself into a corner. He soon realized he had
to keep up appearances. He had to LOOK like a bonafide democratic
reformer. He discovered to his dismay he could no longer be himself;
he could no longer be the petty despot he was meant to be. Don’t
you just hate it when that happens? Like our "reformist"
GOP Freshman Class of ‘94, Lee’s been having second thoughts.
Damn those pesky term limits!
AO has already announced on his television talk show that he intends
to file reams of legal briefs against Lee Teng-hui for bribery
and graft, the very day Lee Teng-hui leaves office and loses his
EARLY, VOTE OFTEN
election my local barber’s daughter ran for "li zhang,"
the rough equivalent of alderman. The next time I went in for
my regular trim, I asked her if her daughter had gotten elected.
She snorted with contempt, "Three thousand NT a vote!"
That’s about one hundred American dollars. "Voters came right
out and demanded that much from us. We don’t have that kind of
money! We campaigned on the basis of my daughters’ character and
integrity. We were so naive. I felt like such a dupe."
hundred American dollars per vote, for a lowly alderman’s office.
An "investment" to be recouped once one’s candidate
is strategically positioned to dispense government largess in
the form of countless infrastructure projects. Many of them built
to shoddy standards resulting in their collapse with the first
try to imagine what kind of quid pro quo we are talking about
for "Mr. Democracy" Lee Teng-hui, President of the Republic
of China, and would-be Father of a Republic of Taiwan?
back to 1996. Remember how the Brahmins of our mainstream western
media oohed and aahed over Lee’s "stunning 54% electoral
mandate" at the polls? Remember how they solemnly intoned,
to the exasperation of knowledgeable historians, that their just-filed
stories were of enormous import because Lee Teng-hui had just
become the "first democratically-elected president in 5000
years of Chinese history?"
TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?
one utterly surreal photo-op during last years’ 9-21 Great Earthquake,
Lee Teng-hui stood behind a folding table piled high with shrink-wrapped
bundles of cash, doling them out for the benefit of the TV cameras.
The scene was straight out of a John Woo gangster flick, except
that the triad boss divvying up the loot was none other than Mr.
was prime Lee Teng-hui. To Lee anything is for sale and anyone
can be bought. Lee paid over $4.5 million to the high-powered
Washington, D.C. PR firm, Cassidy and Associates, to smooth the
way in the GOP congress for his "private" 1995 Cornell
University trip. Lee offered a $15 million dollar "contribution"
to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to dispatch two
carrier battle groups to the Taiwan Straits in 1996. Lee offered
a $1 billion dollar bribe to the United Nations for an observer’s
seat for Taiwan in the General Assembly.
OF THREE EVILS
best candidates by far are New Party candidate Li AO and Independent
candidate Hsu Hsing-liang. Unfortunately, as I have explained
above, they are flat out unelectable. They are as unelectable
as Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne, who was far and away
the best candidate during our own last presidential election.
best candidate by far among those actually electable remains James
Soong . Lien Chan is a distant second. The least desirable candidate
by far is Chen Shui-bian.
truth be told, "Mr. Democracy" Lee Teng-hui has been
such an unmitigated disaster, even Lien Chan or Chen Shui-bian,
if elected, would probably turn out better than their senile predecessor.
Even Lien or Chen, assuming one of them were, god forbid, to stage
an upset and win, would probably be pragmatic enough to lead the
ROC in the right direction, toward eventual, gradual, peaceful
reconciliation with the Chinese mainland.
the best thing about the ROC’s Year 2000 presidential election
is not who’s going to succeed Lee Teng-hui. The best thing the
upcoming presidential election is that Lee Teng-hui is not going
to succeed Lee Teng-hui. Blessed relief on the part of the public
that one is no longer going to be taking up space in the presidential
office. Helluva legacy for Newsweek magazine’s poster boy