UPDATE II: I’m leaving this post up but now several people whom I trust have emailed me to tell me I’m wrong about the Deep Blues — the Deep Blue KMT reaction is for real and Ma is in the middle of the road reaching for allies in the Lee Teng-hui crowd against the hardline KMTers. This would make all the discussion about Lai’s “pro-independence” position Blue-generated nonsense to cover the anti-Ma stuff going on out of sight. As always, sorting out which cynical interpretation of events is the correct one is a full-time job….


The Lai Shin-yuan Affair took a new-old turn today. Readers will recall that the other day the incoming premier appointed Lai, from the “pro-independence” Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) to be the head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the chief policymaking body for cross-strait relations (blogged here first and subsequent). Recent pieces in the media had identified her as strong supporter of Taiwan independence: (”hardliner“), (”surprise choice“; “counter to the pervasive mood of thawing“; “pro-independence figure“). Maddog and others, however, suggested that she was a fake Green. Maddog pointed out in comments on my post that she had been part of a plot to hurt the Greens that had actually driven pro-Green TSU people out of the TSU.

Who was right? What is Lai’s real position? Well, as always, Ma Ying-jeou had the last laugh. Today the pro-Green Liberty Times reported Lai is neither Green nor supports independence.


When Lai was a legislator, she didn’t get along well with the TSU legislators. Instead, she was close to Lei Chen, Lai Shih-pao, and Fei Hung-tai, all from the New Party. She opposed the DPP with all her strength. She was rumored to have had secret meetings with Ma Ying-jeou brokered by Blue legislators.

According to the report, legislative records show that she sponsored a bill to cut the 2-28 museum budget with Lei Chen, and also strongly supported the call for President Chen to step down. This angered many grass-roots TSU people. Prior to the legislative elections, the report also observed, Lai was the only TSU legislator not to support Frank Hsieh.

In other words, Lai is far from Green and far from an independence supporter. She’s a fake Green, a drearily common animal familiar to any longtime observer of politics here.

This little affair illustrates two things. First, that when the KMT claims A it is best to believe B. If a KMTer tells you the earth circles the sun, it is best to check with an astronomer to see if the situation has changed recently. The “protests” and “complaints” about Lai are political theatre aimed at the foreign media, to reinforce the idea that Lai’s “pro-independence” views are for real and Ma really is broad-minded. Ma Ying-jeou must be laughing his totally buff ass off right now. Those of us who have long known what Ma really is can only shake our heads — wasn’t that Ma the other day saying how he picked Lai to represent the 5 million who chose against the Anschluss? That was Ma in his finest form, speaking Absolut Bullshit with a completely straight face. The bottom line is that Ma would not have picked her if she wasn’t safe — he must have known she didn’t represent independence even when he told the world it was so.

No doubt a slew of laudatory prose by foreign commentators stumbling over themselves to praise Ma’s openmindedness will now commence.

The other interesting thing about Lai is how she shows the variegated nature of Taiwan politics. The TSU is a rump mix of former politicians of many different stripes. Despite being an anti-globalization lefty, Lai nevertheless pals around with New Party rightists, the Bluest of the Blue.

UPDATE: The best comment on Lai came from Chiu Yi, who was jailed for attacking a government building with a truck after the last election.

When approached for comment, KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) called Lai “a politician who just wanted a government post,” adding that she did not have “an intellectual’s strength of character.”

“She previously sought to become a legislator-at-large candidate for the People First Party [PFP] and told [PFP Chairman] James Soong (宋楚瑜) that she completely agreed with his ideals,” Chiu said.

“She later went to [former president] Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to join the TSU and said she completely agreed with Lee’s ideals, but Soong’s and Lee’s ideals were totally opposed,” he said.

To understand how ridiculously ironic that is coming from Chiu Yi, read this post on him by Wandering to Tamshui.