The Taipei Times reports:
This whole multiple spokesman thing is totally getting out of hand. Both camps seem to have an entire team of these people, and that never helps you stay on message or keep the tone you are interested in. It's apparently just a way to employee people who would otherwise be out of the spotlight, including former legislators who didn't win seats this time around.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷)campaign team yesterday accused Hsieh's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) counterpart Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of violating the Public Officials' Conflicts of Interests Prevention Act (公職人員利益衝突迴避法).
Hsieh's camp alleged that Ma's older sister, Ma Yi-nan (馬以南), a former deputy manager of a pharmaceutical company, received incentives by monopolizing the supply of drugs to the Taipei City Municipal Hospital during Ma Ying-jeou's term as city mayor in 1999.
Hsieh camp spokesman Hsu Kuo-yong (徐國勇) said the campaign team had evidence to prove Ma Yi-nan's drug company, China Chemical Pharmaceutical Co, received benefits by being the sole drug provider to the hospital.
Another Hsieh spokesman, Chao Tian-lin (趙天麟), said the campaign would reveal more evidence to back up its allegations against Ma Ying-jeou in the next two or three days and urged the KMT candidate to come clean on the subject.
The law states that public servants are prohibited from using their position to establish commercial ties with their close relatives. Since Ma Yi-nan is the former mayor's sister, Ma Ying-jeou should not have allowed her to do business with a municipal hospital, Hsu said.
But that complaint aside, this seems to be a relatively serious corruption allegation, but it's hard to say how well founded. You can tell this from Ma's and the hospital's response:
When approached for a response later yesterday, Ma Ying-jeou called on the Hsieh camp to take its accusations to prosecutors and allow the judicial system to examine the case. He declined to give any further response.
Taipei City Hospital vice president Huang Chun-cheng (黃遵誠) yesterday dismissed the accusations and insisted that the hospital has always followed the Government Purchase Act (採購法) and chosen pharmaceutical companies by a public bidding process for all medicines purchased. Huang urged the Hsieh campaign team to provide solid evidence before making allegations against the hospital.
I imagine this allegation will have some sort of marginal effect on Ma's image and numbers. But I don't know ... can it change the picture? I think the general mood is that nobody is expecting really clean politicians anymore. People held out hope for that when the DPP was elected both times, but the feeling is that everyone's corrupt anyway. Will Hsieh's allegations make a difference?
I can't speak for others, but as a green supporter, I felt despair over the legislative election results. But that was expected. I knew the DPP didn't have a chance, even if the scale of defeat surprised me. But the looming presidential election hangs like a storm cloud. By all accounts, Ma is in the lead and Hsieh's campaign has been lackluster. Most people are betting Ma can get some 60 percent of the vote. And a defeat this time would not feel like a defeat in 2000 or 2004 would have felt. At that time, I think the DPP psychologically could have afforded a loss. This time, it feels like a "do or die" situation -- in which the DPP's very likely to die.
I am honestly convinced that a Ma victory would be a shockingly swift nail in the coffin to the Taiwanese independence movement, since the peace agreement Ma wants to sign with Beijing will likely formalize a framework where unification is the only option and eternally maintaining a de facto independence will be a non-option. Taiwan's future will be taken out of the hands of Taiwanese people and put into the hands of the United Front. And the KMT will effectively be rewarded for making it as tough as posisble for the DPP to do anything.
And I see little hope that this can be avoided.