Lin Yi-shih's resignation as Cabinet secretary-general Friday amid bribery allegations has dealt a severe blow to the Kuomintang (KMT) government, according to local media reports. The real detriment to the party is neither the fall of a promising political star in its ranks nor a possible drop in the approval ratings of President Ma Ying-jeou's administrative team over the incident, the reports said.
Rather, the biggest fallout would be further shrinkage of the KMT bridgeheads in southern Taiwan as Lin leaves the Ma administration under a cloud of corruption, according to political analysts. This could hinder the party's bid to take control of the region from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the analysts said.
Lin quit after being accused of accepting a bribe of NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) from Chen Chi-hsiang, the owner of the Kaohsiung-based Ti Yung Co., to help the company secure a slag treatment contract.
The contract was offered by Taiwan-based China Steel Corp. two years ago when Lin was a legislator. The 44-year-old Lin was also accused of soliciting another bribe of NT$83 million from Chen between February and March this year. When Chen refused to pay up, Lin allegedly pressured China Steel, a listed company in which the government has the controlling stake, to stop supplying slag to Ti Yung for treatment.
The Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office has been investigating the claims since Next Magazine reported them in its latest issue on Wednesday.
The following are excerpts from the local media coverage of the possible impact of the case: United Daily News: The KMT now only controls three regional legislative seats and a mayoral seat in southern Taiwan, which is traditionally a DPP stronghold.
President Ma recruited Lin to his administrative team after Lin, a four-term lawmaker, lost his bid for re-election in January.
Lin, the scion of an influential political family in Kaohsiung, is seen as one of Ma's proteges, a group that is known as "Ma's Army". Lin became one of the KMT's vice chairmen in 2006 when Ma took over the party's helm for the first time, and Lin once headed the party's youth corps. During his last legislative term, Lin served as the party's chief legislative whip responsible for policy coordination. He was the youngest person ever to hold that post in the KMT.
Observers said Lin's resignation amid bribery accusations could hurt President Ma's credibility. In his election campaign in 2008, Ma played up the widespread allegations of corruption against his predecessor Chen Shui-bian. Lin is the first senior official in the Ma administration to be tarnished by corruption charges. Some analysts said Lin's involvement in a graft scandal may even cast a cloud on Ma's bid for re-election as KMT chairman next year.
As Lin is a key figure in one of the three largest political factions in Kaohsiung, the bribery charges against him could undermine the KMT's influence in the region, analysts said.
Lin is the fourth member of "Ma's Army" to have left the administration since Ma's re-election in January. Christina Liu resigned as finance minister last month over a stock capital gains tax controversy, while Wu Ching-chi and Lee Sush-der were replaced as education and finance minister, respectively, in the formation of the new Cabinet.
Political observers said Ma should refrain from naming his proteges and trusted aides to major Cabinet posts and should instead delegate more power to the premier to appoint suitable personnel to the administrative team.
They said Ma's proteges tend to be too homogenous and too focused on winning Ma's trust and fulfilling his wishes or goals, which has hampered their integration into the administrative system. (June 30, 2012).
China Times: President Ma has been grooming Lin to stand as the KMT's candidate in the next Kaohsiung mayoral election.
Ma gave him the positions of head of the party's youth corps, party's vice chairman, chief executive of the party's powerful Policy Coordination Committee and Cabinet secretary-general.
Lin's resignation from the fourth most senior Cabinet post amid allegations of bribery could lead to a reshuffle of pro-KMT political forces in the Kaohsiung area, pundits familiar with the political climate in southern Taiwan said. Some have predicted that the "Red" faction in the Kaohsiung political arena, which is led by the Lin family, could see its influence diminish in the wake of Lin's resignation. With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Lin's political future, "Ma's Army" is having a hard time finding a successor in Kaohsiung, which could also make it difficult for the KMT to pick a mayoral candidate for the southern port city, a party insider said. (June 30, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)