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Cablegate: Great Southern Expectations for Kmt Chairman Ma

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003822

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
DEPT FOR EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TW
SUBJECT: Great Southern Expectations for KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. Summary (SBU): Although Speaker of the Legislative
Yuan Wang Jin-pyng's main constituency is in Kaohsiung
County, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, much to the surprise
of most KMT supporters, defeated Wang Jin-pyng in the KMT
Chairman election in Southern Taiwan. Voters here,
putting a new premium on "clean government," expressed a
hope that the KMT can reform and that scandals in Taiwan
can begin to fade rather than to continuously erupt.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Elected KMT officials in Kaohsiung County and
their supporters have told AIT/K that Ma Ying-jeou's
victory in the KMT Chairman election is proof that people
expect clean politics and hope that the KMT will reform.
Ma was elected despite the fact he had no substantial
access to grass root members of the party, particularly
in southern Taiwan, to campaign for him and despite
lacking the central party organization support possessed
by Wang Jin-pyng. On the other hand, Wang Jin-pyng's loss
may just be attributed to his long political career,
which began in 1975, and his broader connections in the
Party that link him inevitably to "black-gold" and the
"old-KMT."

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3. (U) The following is the voting rate in southern
cities/counties, which Ma won by a surprising margin:

Kaohsiung City: Ma - 75.28% Wang - 23.30%
Chiayi County: Ma - 59.81% Wang - 38.77%
Chiayi City: Ma - 74.10% Wang - 25.07%
Tainan County: Ma - 60.19% Wang - 38.43%
Tainan City: Ma - 76.15% Wang - 22.75%
Kaohsiung County: Ma - 54.17% Wang - 44.90%
Pingtung County: Ma - 63.85% Wang - 35.12%
Penghu County: Ma - 66.65% Wang - 31.96%
Taitung County: Ma - 76.06% Wang - 22.94%


4. (U) Ma's election by such broad margins, according to
local KMT sources, reflects the public's disappointment
in the recent cases of corruption that have surfaced in
President Chen's administration. There is a sense in the
south among Wang Jin-pyng supporters that Ma, although
his "clean image" makes him unsuitable to actually run
the KMT's assets, makes him the "great hope" for the KMT
to reform the party and retake the presidency. This
island-wide desire for "clean government," personified by
Ma Ying-jeou, may be the force that can sweep Ma to the
presidency and other KMT politicians into local
positions. Wang supporters in the south, while agreeing
Wang would still be a better and more savvy KMT leader,
voted for Ma because of the party's current "need" for a
fighting chance against the DPP. Rather than the vote
for Ma signaling a lack of support for Wang, it actually
heralded a move to place ideas above personalities.

5. (SBU) KMT sources stated repeatedly that in order to
prove to people that the KMT will reform and will bring a
better, cleaner political environment, Ma's main task is
now to nominate candidates who are free from allegations
of corruption and who present a fresh vision for the
future of the party. While KMT sources offered no
particular names of candidates who might fit that
description, they did note that only after the results of
future elections -- the first of which will be the
December 3 mayoral/magistrate elections - will Ma
determine whether the people approve of his performance
as Chairman of the KMT. His personal campaign efforts
for Southern KMT candidates in future elections will be a
test to see how far south his immaculate coattails really
extend.

6. (SBU) During AIT/K's visits to local DPP offices in
the 2004 presidential election, some of the DPP local
chairmen in Southern Taiwan stated that the local DPP
would have had far more difficulty campaigning for
President Chen if Ma were the KMT presidential candidate.

7. (SBU) A DPP Kaohsiung party official admitted to
AIT/K on September 6, 2005, that they have received
numerous complaints from their supporters. Supporters
have accused the DPP administration of being as corrupt
as the previous KMT administration and have characterized
DPP politicians as being connected with "black-gold".
This DPP official criticized DPP politicians and
officials, stating that some of them "forget their ideals
after gaining power and position". He expressed
disappointment in politics, but stated, "We cannot live
without politics."
8. (SBU) Comment. Ma's surprisingly strong showing indicates
that he, or the ideal he represents, has more of an
island-wide appeal than most people, perhaps including
himself, had realized. Oddly enough, the DPP seems to
have realized that what Ma represents and the cleanliness
attributed to Ma by the people is far more dangerous than
the man himself. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang, on a trip
to boost local candidates in I-lan county, recently
stated "We [DPP] will win if we have good performance in
local areas. So our biggest enemy is ourselves, not Ma
Ying-jeou." End comment.

THIELE

KEEGAN

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