Premier Wu Den-yih [president Ma Ying-jeou‘s running mate for the January 2012 presidential elections – JR] yesterday accused former President Lee Teng-hui of condoning corruption, with the country marred by rampant “black gold politics” under his leadership,
reports the China Post, and continues:
“Black gold politics ran wild during Lee Teng-hui’s 13-year presidential stint. Who was encouraging all that?” Wu claimed during a TV interview, apparently blaming the former president for Taiwan’s widespread corruption.
Most observers seem to agree that liberalization in Taiwan came with intensified criminal activity in the underworld.
Ko-lin Chin, author of the “Black Gold Politics” chapter in Roy Godson‘s (editor) “Menace to Society”, New Brunswick, London, 2003, quoted a former police chief from a southern city:
Before the abolition of martial law, the crime problem in Taiwan was a minor one. At the time, our main concern was the existence of gambling dens and commercial sex establishments. After martial law was lifted in 1986, however, patrols of the coast became almost nonexistent, and as a result, it was easy to smuggle guns and drugs into Taiwan. That completely changed the crime scene here. (Godson, p. 260.)
Hardly a day goes by without news reports about politicians, businessmen, and gangsters being involved in financial scandal, big rigging, corruption, vote-buying, violent confrontation, or fraud. More often than not, the KMT is blamed for the development of black gold politics. The assumption is that, in order to maintain its power as a ruling party and to defeat the emerging opposition parties such as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Nationalists deliberately established a close relationship with anyone who was powerful enough to assure that the KMT candidates win elections. Many gang and jiaotou members are well connected to grassroot politics, and they become ideal campaign managers or so-called “pillars” or vote captains. After these heidao figures became familiar with the election process, they eventually decided to run for public offices themselves. When the KMT realized that these gangsters and jiaotou figures would be elected with or without their blessing and support, the party decided to embrace them, to make sure that the KMT remained the majority party in both local and national elected bodies. (pp 267-268)
All that said, Ko’s chapter didn’t suggest that only the KMT had such ties – and of the political parties existing at the time, around 2003, the New Party seemed to maintain fewer such contacts than either the KMT or the DPP.
While Sun Yat-sen‘s triad connections may still count as rather noble, the KMT’s underworld connections had probably degenerated some time before 1927, when the KMT-affiliated Green Gang (青幫) massacred hundreds (if not thousands) of communists and union leaders in Shanghai under the name of Society for Common Progress.
Meantime, the Taipei Times reports that the KMT were demanding 240 million NT-Dollars which People’s First Party‘s (PFP) James Soong had – allegedly – taken from the KMT in 1999. The KMT is reportedly seeking cooperation with the – also pan-blue – PFP to win the presidential elections.