In addition to the WaPo piece, today’s media reports also featured Kathrin Hille writing for the Financial times. Hille’s views seem to be remarkably pro-KMT and anti-Chen as she writes on the opposition rally, and on Ma Ying-jeou: Cultivated charisma. It’s basically too easy to rip Hille’s work to shreds…..

Polls late last year showed Mr Chen had lost the support of almost 90 per cent of voters following a corruption scandal, a weak policy record and his party’s first clear electoral defeat in years. But Mr Chen has revived his approval ratings slightly by reverting to a hardline anti-China stance.

……as here she celebrates the DPP defeat and claims that Chen has support of only 10% of the voters. I admire the way she withholds from the reader the salient fact that the exaggerated poll numbers are taken from United Daily News, a pro-Blue paper. Fortunately it’s a short article, too brief for more than a few abuses.

The other article is a laudatory piece on the feckless Ma Ying-jeou.

As Ma Ying-jeou, the opposition Kuomintang’s presidential hopeful for 2008, starts a tour of the US this week, including making a speech at Harvard, his alma mater, that crisis in the Taiwan Strait a decade ago will be on the minds of many. For some observers believe that if Mr Ma succeeds Chen Shui-bian, the incumbent whose insistence on reasserting Taiwan’s de facto independence is once again angering China, tensions in cross-Strait relations could finally recede.

Just think how much better her article could have been if she had included the tale of Ma’s career as a student spy at Harvard, informing on his fellow Taiwan students, and his career as English secretary to a murderous KMT dictator. However, Hille does manage to present some facts about the good Mayor Ma:

But while Mr Ma has been characterised as “charismatic”, his success is rather based on an image he spent almost his entire political career cultivating. Ever since he stepped down as justice minister under Mr Lee to protest the lack of resolve in targeting corruption, Mr Ma has been viewed as squeaky clean. His good looks and regular appearances at running events in shorts also attract female fans.

In policy terms, however, the man who will be calling on officials in the US administration, members of Congress and think-tanks on the Washington leg of his tour next week is an unknown quantity.


But Mr Ma has carefully avoided taking a clear position on any of the controversial issues he would have to deal with as president, including relations with China.

But Hille, bless her, can’t resist adding another dig at Chen as the article closes:

But even if Mr Ma is likely to disappoint those who hope he will make clear China policy commitments on his US visit, he is sure to leave one reassuring impression in Washington. He is bringing a new style to Taiwan politics, with less heated ideology and more cool pragmatism. After the recent unsettling moves of the incumbent, that is likely to be welcome in the US.

Although she has just informed us that Ma has no identifiable policy or ideas, nevertheless, she casts him as “coolly pragmatic” compared to that heated ideologue, the crazed Chen Shui-bian. If you can be “coolly pragmatic” with a completely empty policy package, it’s no wonder that you can cause tension and fear merely by talking about Constitutional change. And to think people criticize Chen for not having any clear policies…didn’t they realize he was just being coolly pragmatic?