Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Presidential Election Results


DE RUEHIN #0430/01 0850829
R 250829Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus their March 25 news coverage on the aftermath of Taiwan's
presidential election last Saturday, including the soaring Taiwan
stock index and NT dollar appreciation Monday, the new cabinet to be
formed by president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, and the personnel reshuffle
of the defeated DPP. All papers also carried reports on AIT Taipei
Director Stephen Young's courtesy call to Ma Monday, in which Ma
expressed hope to visit the United States before his inauguration on
May 20, and Young replied that the decision has to be made by

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed Ma's election and his
attempt to mend the souring relations between Taiwan and the United
States. An editorial in the conservative, pro-unification,
English-language "China Post" discussed the development of
cross-Strait relations after Ma's election. The article said
"Beijing should take creative approaches to demonstrate that Ma's
initiative towards the mainland pays off for Taiwan." An editorial
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" comforted
the pro-Green voters that the DPP's defeat in last Saturday's
presidential election is not the end of the world. The article said
the Taiwan people will be watching Ma's performance closely. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News,"
on the other hand, called on the DPP to return to grassroots by
"reaffirming its core values of democracy and social justice." End

A) "Sweet Revenge"

Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (3/25):

"... When A-bian was elected in 2004, the United States was really
slow in sending a congratulatory message to him; [Washington]
subsequently sent out its letter in the name of the press secretary
of the White House after Taipei had strived to obtain it. At that
time the congratulatory letter [from Washington] was almost as
important as the certification from [Taiwan's Central Election
Commission] confirming Chen's election victory, so A-bian's anxiety
in waiting for [Washington's] congratulatory message was quite
understandable. Both the minister of foreign affairs and Taiwan's
representative to the United States resigned in succession at that
time because of this. Come to think of it, they must feel indignant
right now.

"For the United States' allies, a congratulatory statement signed by
[U.S. President George W.] Bush is normal practice. But during
A-bian's rule over the past eight years, Taiwan-U.S. relations have
suffered great damage. The normal practice for other countries thus
came as a surprise for Taiwan. With Bush's congratulatory statement
at hand, Ma Ying-jeou emphasized that [Taiwan] will stride toward
becoming a beacon of democracy, as referred to by Bush. Ma's
obvious pleasure made people feel moved and sad at the same time.

"A-bian has abused Bush's trust in Taiwan, putting Taipei-Washington
relations in a distorted state and consequently turning himself into
a person of very poor credit. His failure in [Taiwan's] relations
toward the United States has resulted in Taiwan's deteriorating
state of isolation and has done a severe damage to Taiwan's
interests. Ma's election is expected to improve the souring
bilateral relations rapidly, but for the [improvement of]
cross-Strait relations, it will not be that easy. ..."

B) "Ball Is in Beijing's Court"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (3/25):

"... Ma told visiting foreign reporters that Taiwan wants a 'mutual
non-denial' agreement with Beijing, vowing to lay the foundations of
a 'century of peace and prosperity' for the island. His priorities
are to maintain the status quo with the mainland and rebuild the
island's tattered economy.' ... Beijing should take creative
approaches to demonstrate that Ma's initiative towards the mainland
pays off for Taiwan. Otherwise there isn't going to be the domestic
political support that is necessary for continuing to move

C) "Congratulations -- We'll Be Watching"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (3/25):

"... Not for many years will the voice of the people have been as
important as it will be when Ma assumes the presidency on May 20.
Now that the legislative and the executive branches are under KMT
control, the onus will be on them to deliver on the promises of

accountable leadership they made during the campaign. The KMT
victory does not mean, as some have suggested, that the devil
incarnate will step into office. In fact, in the past months Ma has
increasingly sounded like a leader for Taiwanese and his party has
some good people in it who can be counted on to put the interest of
the nation first. These people must be encouraged.

"Simultaneously, as Ma steps onto the international scene, he must
be brought back into line if he is ever seen to be departing from
his promises to serve the interests of Taiwan, and every effort must
be made to ensure that the rotten elements in the KMT -- who are
easily identifiable -- do not manipulate their victory to serve
interests other than those of Taiwan. Saturday's result was not a
return to the authoritarian era, because democracy is now part of
the nation's fabric -- and Ma must learn to navigate that
environment. But democracy implies work. Hard work. And it
imposes responsibilities that go far beyond showing up at the voting
station on election day. Ma won, so let's give him a chance to
prove himself. But we'll be watching -- all of us."

D) "DPP Must Return to Grassroots"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (3/25):

"... The March 22 results do not imply a blanket endorsement of the
KMT, but signifies a 'vote of no confidence' in the DPP government's
inadequate but also underappreciated performance. The DPP must now
revamp its political strategy and leadership for its future role in
opposition based on an honest reappraisal of its own performance,
including achievements and shortcomings and avoid falling prey to
paralyzing internal recriminations. The new DPP leadership must
also carry out a full reassessment of the problems faced by Taiwan's
politics, society, economy and external relations at a time of
globalization and the rise of a 'neo-authoritarian' camp led by the
PRC and now joined by KMT-ruled Taiwan.

"The road back for the party of Taiwan's grassroots democratic
movement will begin back in the grassroots by reaffirming its core
values for democracy and social justice. ... The test of whether
the DPP has learned its lessons will come with the city and county
mayoral elections in late 2009. Only if the DPP can win back the
hope of the Taiwan people in these grassroots polls will there be
hope for the early resumption of democratic and progressive and
Taiwan-centric governance in 2012."


© Scoop Media

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