Saturday, January 09, 2010

In beef debacle, Su Chi emerges as main villain

The US beef debacle has opened yet another door for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in its claim that the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration is incapable of good governance. Following its poor handling of the devastation brought by Typhoon Morakot in August and safety concerns surrounding the swine flu vaccination program, the Cabinet’s decision to partially lift a longstanding ban on US beef imports — followed by its about-face amid growing opposition to the deal, which had been negotiated away from the public eye — has handed the DPP a political gift on a gold platter.

The inept handling of the beef issue has led many to question whether Ma has surrounded himself with officials who are either incapable of providing good advice on political matters, or who knew the unilateral decision would cause a fracas, but chose to proceed nonetheless. The first explanation points to ghastly incompetence in the Cabinet, while the latter hints at efforts by more conservative elements both within the administration and outside it — but still within the pan-blue camp — to throw a wrench in US-Taiwan relations and thereby consolidate Taiwan’s drift into the Chinese sphere of influence.

In either scenario, one government official stands out as the source of the political faux pas: National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起).

My analysis piece, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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