Ko’s inquiries indeed louder in bark than bite
Following months of announcements, as well as the establishment of various checks and balances committees such as the Taipei City’s Clean Government Committee ( CGC,
), the Ko administration has finally closed its books on the probes into Taipei’s five major corruption and malpractice cases.
Though Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je ( ) and his CGC ended up sending four cases further into investigative processes than the central government had, his efforts have been widely criticized as having “more bark than bite.”
Quite honestly, this is true, but exactly why did the investigations end on such a weak note?
The more complex reason for the situation and Ko’s subsequent protestations of defense may be grounded in self-defense, maybe not so much from the mayor, but most likely from his CGC.
It is safe to say that the conglomerates into which the mayor had ordered deeper probes had been playing the game of politics for quite some time, way longer than the mayor who just became a politician on Dec. 25 last year.
Failure to Nab Consortiums
and KMT Officials
Hence, it is safe to say that the consortiums which the mayor tried to bring down have ironclad contracts that are almost impenetrable, even in the face of nvestigation by a new city administration.
CGC members who conducted the investigations probably felt threatened for their personal reputations after uncovering evidence which could potentially lead to a lawsuit against the CGC member unless they were very certain of the robustness of the evidence.
The only action for such individuals to adopt would be to transfer evidence higher up into the gov- ernment, as brashly accusing powerful consortiums of allegations might lead to expensive counter lawsuits for the individual.
Even Ko himself seemed to have sensed the potential risks of presenting the cases to the Taipei District Prosecutors office.
City Government Overestimates
Of course, a simpler explanation as to why the investigations packed bark rather than bite can be explained as being due to the lack of power the city government actually has, as well as overexcitement from the Taipei public.
The investigations were one of the most prominent pledges of Ko’s mayoral campaign, and also the most talked about part of the Ko administration’s work. Such acts gave the impression to residents that corruption existed and was severe in the government.
However, the mayor’s recruitment of under-qualified investigators who yielded mediocre results
has damaged the mayor.
Dramatic Reactions Backfire
Secondly, the amount of media coverage of the mayor’s dramatic reactions toward the so-called 1 percent has sent Taipei citizens, if not the entire nation into a soapopera drama frenzy, anticipating a climax that would ultimately change the political climate of the nation. Ko’s energetic and sometimes overtly furious behavior when presenting his report into corruption had the nation believing that the country was about to witness a modern retelling of “David vs. Goliath,” where a grassroots mayor elected by the people was going to lead Taipei into a new era where the people and not the rich control the government.
But, in the end, for whatever reason, the city government decided to end the investigations. And sadly, but perhaps predictably the general public have been left with the dismal impression that not a lot of difference has been made.