May 21, 2008

Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian: Silly, Silly, Silly Man!

Another attribute which we did not mention in the self analysis below is our strong belief in democracy. In New Zealand's case this manifests itself in a republican tendency and support for MMP which we voted for and still champion.

Our interest in Taiwan, aside from its importance as a trade partner, is in its delivering what Lee Kuan-yew, and multiple Chinese rulers say is impossible in a chinese society - a pure form of democracy. In many ways purer than the New Zealand model. This system saw the KMT hand over power to Chen Shui-bian and the DPP 8 years ago, and yesterday the DPP handed power back to the KMT. These elections have in the most part been orderly, but there is still murk around the election 4 years ago with its dramatic election eve assassination attempt on the incumbent.

Our theory is that the failed assassin was hired by the President to rid him of his crazy Vice President Annette Lu. Unfortunately he wasn't that good a shot, winged the President and only managed to shoot Lu in the leg. Chen got the sympathy vote he wanted but had to suffer loopy Lu for four more years.

The loopiness seems to have rubbed off with Government becoming increasingly more corrupt. Pretty much everyone knew what was going on. The DPP, as a consequence, has suffered humiliating losses in legislative yuan and Presidential elections. Whether it can rebuild is a big question.

Chen Shui-bian should have known better, but there is considerable evidence out there to suggest that he too had his hand in the till. This FT report details how prosecutors have moved in within minutes of the Presidential immunity being lifted. Chen's defence that he used the missing money for secret diplomacy is particularly worrying given recent revelations about the missing $36 million that has been widely reported around the world, including in New Zealand. The DPP's corruption has tarnished Taiwan's democracy. Perversely, it is now up to what was previously the most corrupt party in the world - the KMT - to restore faith in the system.