● 方恩格（Ross Darrell Feingold）／前美國共和黨海外部亞太區主席
By Ross Darrell Feingold
Former Asia Chairman, Republicans Abroad
Starting from July, the Chinese Nationalist Party and Taiwan People’s Party spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to prove Taoyuan City mayoral candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party Lin Chih-chien committed plagiarism in his two masters degrees.
The outcome for Lin Chih-chien is that he withdrew from the election.
While this might have seemed like a positive outcome for the Chinese Nationalist Party or the Taiwan People’s Party, the outcome for Taiwan’s politics is negative.
1. Taiwan’s political parties proved again they have many “trans-constituency councilors” who spend too much time on issues that are irrelevant to their constituents. This gets them invited to Internet live-stream, radio and television political talk shows, but doesn’t contribute to discussion about how to improve local government performance. Do Taipei City councilors really want to be known as the experts in the masters degree thesis of a Taoyuan City mayor candidate?
2. Time spent on this issue is time that is not spent by the candidates introducing their policy vision. For example, in July and August, Chinese Nationalist Party Taoyuan City mayor candidate Simon Chang’s proxies were mostly talking about Lin Chih-chien’s thesis. Simon Chang’s policy vision received far less media attention. Is this how Simon Chang wants to win the election?
3. The Democratic Progressive Party is understandably seeking revenge, by activating the “state machinery” to investigate whether Chinese Nationalist Party and Taiwan People’s Party politicians have committed plagiarism in graduate school thesis or government funded projects. Are the Chinese Nationalist Party and Taiwan People’s Party so naïve that they did not think the Democratic Progressive Party would seek revenge?
4. Whether it is plagiarism, drunk driving, or other types of bad behavior, Taiwan political parties often fail to sufficiently vet their candidates. Such a lack of a security culture is dangerous given other dangers that Taiwan faces. Why are Taiwan’s political parties so bad at candidate vetting?
5. Although the election in November is a local election, it is unavoidable that the election will also be about “oppose China, protect Taiwan”. Will plagiarism continue to be the focus of attention, and divert attention from more important issues?
This author hopes Taiwan’s politicians shut up about plagiarism, and instead focus on more important issues. Unfortunately, it is more likely that no truce will be declared, and plagiarism allegations will continue to dominate this election cycle. This might harm some politicians, and benefit other politicians, but how it benefits Taiwan’s people remains to be seen.