Taipei’s “novice” Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) really outdid himself with the shamelessly clownish performance he put on last week.
While answering councilors’ questions at a Taipei City Council session on Monday, Ko, who was a physician before becoming mayor, not only avoided giving straight answers, but put on an act worthy of the crafty character Wei Xiaobao (韋小寶) in Jin Yong’s (金庸) novel The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記), treating the solemn council chamber as a stage for stand-up comedy.
Ko mocked Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who some reports say is thinking of competing in the next Taipei mayoral election.
Taking a sideways swipe at Chen, Ko said: “Taipei people are very sophisticated.”
What about the mayor of Taipei? Let us have a look to see just how sophisticated he is.
People have been questioning the text of Ko’s speech at the Taipei-Shanghai City Forum in China at the beginning of July. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅), in particular, has been asking Ko to come clean.
Although Ko said in a September interview that he had sent the text to the National Security Council before attending the forum, his speech in China bandied about ridiculous pronouncements such as “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family” and “share a common destiny.”
Even if the central government did not authorize Ko to make such statements, he still got its agreement and support.
However, then Ko turned around and criticized the Presidential Office, saying: “They waited until there was a problem and now they are using this to attack me.”
What actually happened? Taipei City councilors not only want answers for themselves, but also for the people they represent.
Strangely, Ko had already agreed in a question-and-answer session at the council on Oct. 2 that he would reveal everything about the speech, but when it came to the session on Tuesday last week, he beat around the bush and refused to spit it out.
Ko’s clownish approach was most evident in his response to a question from Taipei City Council Speaker Wu Pi-chu (吳碧珠).
“Mr Mayor, on a previous occasion you already agreed to entertain the councilor’s question, saying that you would provide an answer,” Wu said.
Ko disingenuously said that Chou had not specified by what date he wanted a reply. It is not difficult to see how unsophisticated the mayor really is.
Two other shields that Ko threw up were even more flabbergasting.
One deflection was to turn around the question by asking a questioner: “As a member of the DPP, do you want to make relations between me and the DPP even tenser?”
He even said he wanted the DPP council caucus to handle the matter.
Apparently Ko has never heard of US political scientist Robert Dahl’s maxim that “political conflict, not harmony, is the hallmark of the modern democratic state,” which should tell him that tense relations between a mayor and councilors are inevitable in a democracy.
For a mayor to openly order the minority party caucus to muzzle its councilor’s questions — who does he think he is?
Evidently, Ko knows nothing about the essence of democratic politics or the checks and balances inherent in a democratic system.
Ko has said that the lawyers in this generation of politicians are going to be replaced by a generation of doctors.
While there is nothing wrong with doctors getting involved in politics, problems arise when they have not even learned the ABCs of democracy.
s Chou kept pressing Ko with questions, the mayor came up with a new deflection that had to do with “state secrets.”
“This question has to do with state secrets ... so I cannot just say whatever I like, and it does not really have to be discussed here, in public,” Ko said.
Picking up on Ko’s contradictions, Chou reminded Ko that he always talks about “openness and transparency” and “public participation.”
“There is a nobler sentiment, which is to shoulder the burdens of the nation, and I make my political judgements accordingly,” Ko said in a nonsensical response.
Ko said there are many things that should not be discussed in public. Yet, if they cannot be addressed in public, then the response he gave on Oct. 2 — promising to reveal all — must have been a lie and a mere delaying tactic.
Besides, why on earth would the text of Ko’s speech for the twin-city forum be a “state secret”? Which article of the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) could possibly apply to his speech? If anyone but Ko himself had classified it as a state secret, who might that have been?
What a load of nonsense.
Samuel Johnson’s remark should not be forgotten: “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
As soon as Chou exposed Ko’s deception about “openness and transparency,” the mayor scurried into a self-spun “patriotic” cocoon by talking about “the state.”
Considering Ko’s statement that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family,” which state’s interests is he really concerned about?
In the medical field, Ko is an expert in resuscitation, but what really needs resuscitating is his feeble comprehension of democracy.