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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #3876/01 3200814
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160814Z NOV 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3054
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5939
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7158

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 003876

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - DAVID FIRESTEIN
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: TAIPEI MAYOR MA YING-JEOU


1. Summary: Taiwan's major dailies all gave significant reporting
and editorial coverage November 16 to Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who
apologized Wednesday for his office's administrative defects in
handling the special mayoral allowance. Most papers front-paged
Ma's apology and devoted several of their inside pages to more
detailed reports on the flaws in Ma's office's reimbursement
procedures, the reactions of the pan-Blue and pan-Green camps to the
development of this event, and the impact of this event on Ma, his
political future, and on the upcoming Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral
elections. The pro-unification "United Daily News" also front-paged
the results of its latest survey, which showed that 58 percent of
those polled said they believe in Ma's integrity, and 65 percent
said they do not think Ma needs to resign. An "Apple Daily" poll
also showed that 63.47 percent of respondents believe that Ma need
not resign, since he had no prior knowledge of the administrative
flaws in his office.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, editorials in both the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation
daily, and the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" both called on
prosecutors to use the same criteria to examine President Chen
Shui-bian and Ma. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" also decried the
double standard applied to Chen versus to Ma. An editorial in the
pro-status quo "China Times" urged Ma to see President Chen's case
as a mirror and deal with the affair proactively. A "United Daily
News" editorial lamented the rough state of Taiwan's democratic
development and said justice should be upheld in this severe
constitutional crisis. End summary.

A) "Prosecutors Should Use the Same Criterion to Examine Chen
Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (11/16):

"... The public will focus its attention on the follow-on political
impact triggered by Ma's case. Whether or not the prosecutors will
use the same criterion to investigate this and other similar cases
will be a test for the credibility of Taiwan's judiciary, and it
will be closely monitored by the Taiwan people. ... Since Ma is
deeply mired in the scandals, it is foreseeable that the statements
made by the pan-Blue camp over the past few months to abuse and
insult President Chen Shui-bian will come back to haunt them. Even
though these may be the undesirable consequences of an eye for an
eye in Taiwan's political circle, we still believe that on top of
this political phenomenon, the Taiwan people should pay more
attention to the topic of how to fulfill 'transitional justice.'
..."

B) "Same Criterion for Bian and Ma"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 500,000]
editorialized (11/16):

"... Both Chen Shui-bian's case and Ma Ying-jeou's case must be
examined using the same criteria. This is the highest principle of
law. The public should also use the same criteria to judge these
two cases, because this is a moral principle. ..."

C) "Different Rules for Different Folks"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (11/16):

"... The double standard is brazen. Ma called Chen's behavior
'corruption' and demanded the president step down. When caught
doing the same thing, he dismisses the case as administrative
negligence. ... The truth of the matter is that both the mayoral
expense fund and the 'state affairs fund' are indicative of an era
when public money was used with impunity. The rules governing these
funds are out of date in today's democratic environment. But until
the legal structures are fixed, let's hold Ma up to his own
standards of morality: Mayor Ma, you were caught with your hand in
the cookie jar. Maybe you should consider stepping down."

D) "Ma Ying-jeou Should See Chen Shui-bian as a Mirror"

The pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (11/16):

"... As it stands now, for Ma Ying-jeou, he had better use Chen
Shui-bian as a mirror, and the best crisis management for him is to
confront the issue; do not dodge, do not tell lies to cover up
negligence and, moreover, do not try to think about loss and gains
for [the presidential elections in] 2008. At this moment, it is up
to the prosecutors' investigation to determine the crime and
punishment [for Ma] on the legal aspect, but on the political
aspect, it hinges on public opinion and trends to determine [Ma's]

crime and punishment. Ma's only choice is that his words and deeds
must be worthy of his conscience, and this is something that
Taiwan's political circle is short of."

E) "What If Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian Both Will Face 'Initial
Trial'"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (11/16):

"... We want to emphasize again: Maintaining justice will be upheld
as the highest principle in this constitutional crisis. Taiwan
people should use this criterion to examine other political figures'
reactions to Bian's case and to Ma's case. Chen's case is one
thing, while Ma's case is another; each has its own separate
political responsibility. One must not use Ma's case to invalidate
Chen's; neither should one use Chen's case to cover up Ma's. ..."

YOUNG

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