Ma Ying-jeou, a Weasel Under Pressure?

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Friday February 08, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Ma Ying-jeou continues to be the perfect example of how a person with an unearned sense of privilege and entitlement is unable to handle adversity and pressure. Case in point is the recent revelation that Ma Ying-jeou had a green card. Whether Ma had a green card or not is really not the main issue. What is of more importance is how a man whose whole political stance is built on image and style as opposed to substance and honesty becomes a weasel when that image is threatened.

Bill Clinton showed some of the same. Did he smoke marijuana? "Well I smoked, but I didn't inhale." Did he have an affair with Monica Lewinsky? "Well, it technically wasn't sex." Did Ma have a green card? He didn't, he did. When did he give it up? Well he's not sure; he doesn't have his old passport. Passport? Was it on an ROC passport, a Hong Kong passport? The answers keep changing depending on the time of day Ma is asked the question. Taiwan rarely gets a straight answer from Ma. It is as if he is thinking, "How will my answer affect my image?" And so he keeps trying to improve it and changing.

Up until recently, Ma has had a privileged position with the media both in Taiwan and abroad. Ma studied law in the United States but never passed the bar exam either in the United States or Taiwan. Ma's current political opponent passed the bar exam, but no media person had ever asked Ma why he didn't. Perhaps that is why he had to give up his green card in the United States; he then returned home to the shelter and privilege of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). In the days of their one-party state he got a position teaching law at a national university. If you can't pass the bar, you teach. Then he was a personal translator for Chiang Ching-kuo and so his privilege continued. Now to protect his ambivalence, Ma has designated some twenty-two people to answer his questions for him. Does he really need twenty-two stand-ins to answer questions for him? It is true after all, that pressure only brings out the weasel in him, but is that the kind of president Taiwan wants?