One party state returned to Taiwan?
A number of incidents after Ma took office have led to the suspicion that the KMT is brining one party rule back and the KMT government seems to be watching people and restricting freedom of speech again. Here are some examples:
A: Police probing about Pasuya Yao’s talk?
On 23 August 2008, the police telephoned Taiwan Ta-Ti Cultural and Educational Foundation to ask questions about their activities. One of the phone calls stood out. It was concerned with the presentation which was about to be given by the former General Information Office Director, Pasuya Yao. The office worker asked why the police called and the policeman told her that his superior told him to because intelligence indicated that a DPP party official was invited to attend. The office worker told him this was not true and then asked why the police never contacted them when DPP was in office and, all of sudden, the police started questioning their activities. The policeman claimed that they were assessing whether they should send some colleagues to protect Mr. Yao.
The office worker replied ‘Really? The government couldn’t even protect the former President Chen from a physical attack. Are you sure they are extending their protection to a former General Information Office Director? Besides, last week, we invited another former GIO Director, Dr. Hsieh, Chih-wei. Why didn’t you send anyone to protect Dr. Hsieh?’ The policeman went silent and quickly went on to his next question. He asked about the number of participants. The worker told him that there were going to be 150 people. The policeman replied that according to the intelligence, there were going to be 200, so he suggested to his superior that the Foundation should hire the police hall. The worker said ‘perhaps we will do that in the future to make it easy for you guys to watch us and gather intelligence.’ She went on to say ‘Actually, all the information and photos can be found on our website. You don’t need to any intelligence work.’ The police replied ‘yeah, I know. Your talks are also always broadcast through FM95.9 and the 228 Internet Radio.’ Before hanging up the phone, he asked the worker her name. When she gave her surname, he insisted on getting the full name but she firmly refused.
B: Taipei City Government inspecting business donating to the DPP?
In September, it was disclosed that Taipei City Government (the current Mayor belongs to the KMT) Finance Department started inspecting accounts of companies that have made donations to the DPP in response to a request made by the KMT. The City Government claimed that the request was actually made by the DPP as the DPP wanted to make sure all donations they received were legitimate and the ‘KMT’ printed on the official letters they sent out were simply a typo. However, the DPP denied that they ever made such a request. When you come to think of it, what kind of dumb political parties would hassle their own supporters like that? Are they throwing all the future donations away?
C: Investigation Bureau probing about the DPP party meeting?
On 1 October, the DPP was holding a party meeting in Ping-tung. An investigator from the Investigation Bureau, Ministry of Justice, Li, went to ask about the DPP chairperson, Tsai Ing-wen’s whereabouts and movements and decisions made during the meeting. The official also left his business card. When asked, Investigation Bureau admitted sending an investigator there but denied deliberate probing. The Bureau claimed that a KMT councilman was going to stage a protest around the DPP meeting and the investigator was only sent there to investigate this possible disturbance. The investigator himself said that he only stopped by the DPP meeting on his way to his old university supervisor’s. Whichever accounts were true, a DPP MP, Pan Meng-an, emphasised that when DPP was in charge, Investigation Bureau officers never went to KMT to probe about their internal information. 
In the Martial Law era, the KMT used Investigation Bureau to watch and gather information on people. Anyone who showed any anti-KMT tendency would be subject to ‘investigations’, which included unlawful search/arrest, tedious interrogations and torture. Such probing inevitably arouses suspicion. If Mr Li genuinely went there to investigate the possible protest staged by a KMT local councilman, why did he ask questions about Tsai Ing-wen’s movements and content of the meeting? Even if he didn’t mean to probe and was just making a conversation, then his professional boundaries should be seriously questioned.
D: The Magnificent President Ma?
When attending a Deaflympics event, Ma laughed very happily when the hostess taught the whole audience how to sign ‘the Magnificent President Ma’ but there was said to be moments of uncomfortable silence in the audience. Many criticised such a performance and Ma’s happy acceptance. In an event like this, it seems unlikely that the organiser didn’t inform Ma’s office everything in the programme. Many doubt that he didn’t know. If he knew and didn’t tell them not to go ahead with it, it meant that he probably liked it.
E: Rituals for the Emperor?
In late September, Taipei City Councillor, Chien, Yuyen revealed that the City Government invited Ma Ying-jeou to attend the Confucious Celebrations and changed the rituals to a performance for the Emperor. Although this event was postponed because of a typhoon, it still instigated some discussions. According to Chien, the City Government also arranged for Ma to walk on red carpet and enter the temple through the middle gate, which is reserved only for emperors or Gods in the Chinese culture. This is unprecedented in Taiwanese history and no president has accepted such an arrangement before. Ma also gave a tablet to the Confucious temple, which only Chiang, Kai-shek has done before. Many people wonder whether Ma really fancies himself a magnificent emperor but the Presidential Office Spokesperson, Wang Yu-chi explained that Ma was doing this to highlight that Republic of China is a sovereign state. Well, after calling Taiwan a ‘region’, allowing Chen Yun-lin (Chinese official) not to call him ‘President’ and attempting to unconditionally accept the Chinese food inspection standard, Ma is highlighting ‘sovereignty’ internally to Taiwanese… in an imperial way? Update: The ceremony did go ahead as described above on 5 October. Quite a few students and Head of Cultural Affairs passed out in the heat.
F: Putting pressure on the press?
A-gu has done a good job writing about the KMT and government interference with the running and reporting of RTI.
Now, Talking Show, which has been using real evidence to comment on and criticise government’s policies, is under fire. The show host, Cheng, Hung-yi made a mistake in interpreting an EU figure the other day but he immediately retracted it after being corrected by a call-in viewer and asked experts among the viewers to help him with the correct interpretation. He also clarified the information and brought in the former DoH Minister, Dr Tu Shing-cheh (a medic of course) to explain the following day. However, the KMT and pan-Blue media ignored his correction and further explanations and the government’s dishonest and vague accounts and are now holding on to the Cheng’s initial mistake. A KMT committee member proposed counter attacks on ‘TV programmes which mislead the public’ and gave Talking Show as an example. The KMT has not confirmed or ruled out legal actions. I think the KMT is doing this because their lies and deception are often crushed by Talking Show, which means ‘losing face’, and now they see a weakness, they go for the throat.
Sovereignty is eroding fast; one party state seems to be coming back. Many are worried that even if Taiwan can see another presidential election (i.e. if Taiwan is not completely swallowed up by China before then), the KMT is making sure that no one else can beat them in an election and the freedom and democracy Taiwanese had for the past 20 years will simply disappear. Some are waiting to impeach Ma and MPs on his side. Some are talking about street protests and petitions. Some are even contemplating the prospect of a radical revolution. Whatever is going to happen, Taiwan has not seen this level of anxiety and uncertainty since the former President Lee Deng-hui peacefully freed the country from martial law and transformed it into a democracy.