The US Beef Issue, a Ma Ying-jeou and KMT Problem

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Thursday June 07, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Where's the beef?? Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou created the beef problem with the USA; he first indicated to US officials that he could handle the whole matter because he was both President of Taiwan and Chairman of the KMT which controlled the Legislative Yuan. With such power, he believed that he could in his usual style he could forcefully micromanage everything.

As a result, Ma pushed things through without proper consultation of the Legislative Yuan (LY); perhaps he felt that since his party, the KMT, controlled the LY, he would have no problems; they would have to toe the line. However, legislators are also in a democracy bound to carry out the wishes of their constituents. Ma seems to have ignored this. With this in mind, Ma made his deals with the USA in a quid pro quo style; they would help in his re-election and in return he would guarantee the beef issue pass.

The day after Ma's election, the Chairman of AIT arrived on Taiwan's doorstep expecting an immediate agreement on the beef issue; it did not come. The USA unfortunately believes Ma's hype and PR and is not really attuned to what is happening on ground level in Taiwan. That is the USA's problem, they need to do more than listen to the pan-blue types that Ma has always sent to DC.

But back to Taiwan and the beef. Ma wanted to get the beef issue approved before his inauguration; that seemed possible, after all he had four months but Ma ran into problems. He had ignored consulting the LY when he initiated the beef deals with the USA, and now that is coming back to haunt him.

It is five months since AIT head Burghardt came to Taiwan in January, and the US beef lobby still has nada.

Ma now is calling for the KMT legislators to back him on something he did not consult them on in the first place--again typical Ma style. Will he be able to strong-arm them into approving the issue? I would say yes, but hopefully the Taiwanese will finally begin to smell the coffee as regards Ma Ying-jeou.

Ma is trying to blackmail everyone for his previous behind the scenes deals; Ma did not consult the LY and get people on board; now he is saying that all USA trade deals etc. will ride on approval of the quid pro quo deals he made clandestinely.

If there is one thing that Taiwanese voters need to wake up and learn, it is this. The whole beef issue is a KMT and Ma constructed problem. Agreements were made in 2009, when Taiwan had a KMT president and a KMT controlled LY. Taiwan still has a KMT President and a KMT controlled LY. If there are problems with unfit beef coming into Taiwan, there is only one place the finger can point, at the KMT. Why does Europe have a different and more stringent standard vis-a-vis US beef than Taiwan? Ask Ma, ask the KMT. Has Ma put Taiwan in a situation where it can be blackmailed? It appears so; hopefully sooner or later Taiwan will understand the type of President it has.