Taiwan President faces political Armageddon: DPP ex-Chairman

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Ma Ying-jeou was facing a political Armageddon because of the increasing number of corruption scandals and because he chose the side against political opinion, according to former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang.
The president had entered a vicious circle of poor opinion poll ratings, Hsu said in an interview published online Thursday.
For months, public support for Ma has stood around 13 percent, and time after time again, the president had been unable to take decisions raising his profile barely one year after winning re-election, the former opposition leader said.
On nearly every issue, Ma has chosen the side least popular with the public, be it on nuclear energy, pension reform or the fight against corruption, according to Hsu. The government has pushed for a referendum about the fate of the fourth nuclear plant nearing completion in Gongliao, New Taipei City, but if, as expected, a vast majority of people vote to scrap the plant, Ma will suffer severe political damage, Hsu said.
Several opinion polls show opposition against the nuclear project running above 70 percent. The referendum is expected for the end of this year, though critics fear the government will phrase the question of the ballot in such a way that the plant might be completed because not enough voters take part.
The Ma Administration’s inefficiency and inaction also allowed corruption to surface, Hsu said, pushing the government deeper into a vicious circle. The ruling Kuomintang, which Ma chairs, is currently battling three scandals. Former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih is on trial for allegedly demanding money from a businessman in return for a contract with a state-run company, former Nantou County Magistrate Lee Chao-ching has been indicted for taking kickbacks in post-typhoon reconstruction projects, and Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ru has been detained while being investigated for bribes in a major development project in the capital.
Of the three scandals, the third one is the most damaging to Ma because Lai managed his office as KMT chairman and was generally regarded as a confidante of the president. Prosecutors were still investigating whether other city councilors or city government officials were also involved.
Ma was in danger of turning into a lame-duck president only one year into his second four-year term, Hsu said. The KMT faces chairman elections later this year, local and regional elections in December 2014 and presidential elections in 2016, though Ma is not allowed under the Constitution to run for a third consecutive term.