VP Vincent Siew Bows Out, Saving Face for Himself, the KMT and Ma

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Wednesday June 01, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

It has been an accepted fact in Taiwan for the past months that Vincent Siew would not be Ma Ying-jeou's Vice-Presidential running mate in the upcoming 2012 elections. In 2008, Siew had been brought onto Ma's ticket as added value; he helped Ma to keep ties with the old guard Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and he was to give the people economic confidence that Ma's 6-3-3 promise would be a slam dunk affair. His added value dissipated after the elections and Siew was relegated to a minor role. It wasn't necessarily his fault, but it was clear he had no cachet for Ma in 2012. It was either bow out or be dumped.

What happened? Several factors contributed. First of course, Ma's 6-3-3 had been created by his Boy Scout advisers and that would have challenged even an economic genius to come close to achieving such miscalculated promises. Second Siew's experience as Premier was back under Lee Teng-hui and times had changed drastically from those days when the KMT ruled the roost. That world no longer exists. Further, Ma is no Lee Teng-hui. True, afterwords Siew was Chairman of the Chung Hua Institute of Economic Research, but in a fast changing world, even Chung Hua may need some readjustment.

Third, Ma's inner circle is made up more of sycophants, yes-men and old school buddies. Siew fit none of those roles. Even if he had ideas to contribute, he would have had a hard time getting them into that inner circle. Finally, Siew's health has been suffering, so it was obvious that Siew would not be on the 2012 ticket.

However, Ma now faced the problem of how to preserve his nice guy image; he could not admit the reality that Siew added little to his ticket after 2008; and he did not want to simply dump Siew. In such circumstances it came as little surprise then that Siew would bow out and save face for both.

That still leaves an unresolved problem for Ma. Who could he get to be his token Vice President? Who could add value to his ticket? Who would even want to compete with Ma's group of sycophants, yes-men and old school buddies? Party loyalty is one thing, but personal integrity and pride is another. Wu Den-yih is one possibility; his character and principles are adaptable. Will he get the nod? We will soon know.