Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has promised his full support for the country's incoming government. The man expected to become Pakistan's next prime minister is someone Musharraf had jailed for over four years. Yousuf Raza Gilani has been chosen by the Pakistan Peoples Party to be its candidate for the premiership. The party of assassinated former leader Benazir Bhutto heads a coalition which now dominates parliament following last month's general elections.
Many believe Bhutto's widower Ali Asif Zardari will eventually take over the post of premier. He is currently ineligible because he is not a parliamentarian. The new government is widely expected to take measures to curb the power of President Musharraf.
Discipline First for Taiwan’s New Leader
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Growing up in Taiwan as the only boy among five children, Ma Ying-jeou bore the weight of his father’s expectations.
BORN July 13, 1950.
EDUCATION Bachelor of laws, National Taiwan University, 1972; master of laws,
CAREER Chairman, Nationalist Party, 2005-7; mayor,
The elder Mr. Ma, determined that his son be a broad-minded gentleman with a sense of national purpose, demanded that he study the Chinese classics and spend hours after school every day mastering Chinese calligraphy. And the father, a champion runner in high school and college, took him on long runs during his late teens after initially viewing him as too lazy to achieve athletic success.
Out of that upbringing came a fiercely determined man who sleeps five hours a night, jogs regularly at dawn — and on Saturday won the presidency of Taiwan.
“Although at the time I felt very much — well, sometimes — bothered, looking back I appreciate his role,” Mr. Ma, now 57, said Sunday in an interview, recalling the many evenings he spent practicing brush strokes.
President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (roughly pronounced Ma ING-gee-oh) will need that energy and discipline to lead Taiwan, having created high expectations during the campaign. Despite pledging to improve trade relations and calm military and diplomatic tensions with the mainland, he continues to castigate its leaders for human rights abuses and supports the Dalai Lama’s calls for Tibetan autonomy.
He has promised to stimulate Taiwan’s struggling economy by opening trade with China and letting in Chinese tourists, but now faces a global economic slowdown. He also has promised to run a clean government. But he leads a party with a long history of corruption and thuggery so ingrained that when Mr. Ma tried to investigate illegal deals while justice minister in the mid-1990s, he quickly lost his job and temporarily had to leave politics. He was an assistant professor at a local university for about a year before he came back by being elected mayor of Taipei.
Throughout his career, Mr. Ma, who has a doctorate in legal studies from Harvard, has taken legally precise positions that sometimes have been politically popular and sometimes have not.
“He’s very lawyerly, and his first reaction to events is to fall back on principles and the legal ramifications,” said Douglas H. Paal, who was the director from 2002 to 2006 of the American Institute in Taiwan, which handles American diplomatic interests here in the absence of full diplomatic relations. “It has given him an ability to respond to any issue that comes up in Taiwan, and there seems to be one every three days.”
Rebuilding Taiwan’s relationship with its longtime protector, the United States, is part of a difficult balancing act that awaits Mr. Ma as he prepares for his inauguration on May 20.
Mr. Ma said Sunday that he wanted to negotiate confidence-building military procedures with China to reduce the risk of an accidental war and eventually a peace agreement ending hostilities across the Taiwan Strait.
But he also needs to allay the suspicions of American conservatives who value Taiwan as a strategic counterweight to China and who remain distrustful of Mr. Ma’s Nationalist Party because of its reluctance for years to approve the purchase of submarines and other military hardware first offered by President Bush in 2001.
Mr. Ma plans to seek close relations with Japan, another important ally of the United States and one that shares the American commitment to preserving the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. But he has also long infuriated Japan by contending that it should hand over a cluster of small islands to Taiwan, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands and to Chinese speakers as the Diaoyu Islands. He even wrote his doctoral dissertation at Harvard on the subject.
At a news conference on Sunday morning, Mr. Ma offered a mechanism and some thoughts on a formula for achieving a peace agreement with the mainland. For starters, he said, negotiations should be handled through two semiofficial foundations set up with government backing in the early 1990s: the Straits Exchange Foundation, which Mr. Ma helped establish on the Taiwan side, and Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.
Using such groups to conduct talks, instead of government agencies, is like shaking hands while wearing white gloves, Mr. Ma said. “If you wear a white glove, it is still courteous, but it is not your actual flesh,” he said.
The trickier task is to find a formula that balances Beijing’s position that Taiwan is a breakaway province and Taiwan’s position that it is a sovereign country and the legal continuation of the Republic of China. The Republic of China was the formal name for China after the end of imperial rule in 1912 and during the time that the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, governed the country. The Nationalists lost China’s civil war to Mao’s Communist Party and fled to Taiwan in 1949.
Mr. Ma said that he accepted the so-called 1992 consensus, in which Taiwanese and mainland officials reached an understanding, never issued as a formal document, that there is one China but that the two sides interpret what that means differently.
He also offered another approach, saying that sovereignty issues were too hard to resolve but that each side would have to move beyond denying the legal existence of the other. He described this approach as “mutual nondenial” but provided few details.
Ma Ying-jeou was born on July 13, 1950, the son of a mid-ranking functionary in the Nationalist Party. Mr. Ma earned a bachelor of laws degree from National Taiwan University, a master of laws from New York University and a doctor of juridical science degree from Harvard.
After obtaining his doctorate, Mr. Ma became a translator for President Chiang Ching-kuo and rose quickly through the Nationalist Party ranks. Mr. Ma became the party’s deputy secretary general just three years later.
He may be at a disadvantage in reassuring Taiwan’s people that he can strike a hard bargain with Beijing because he comes from a mainland family and was born in Hong Kong. He said Sunday morning at a news conference that he had a Taiwan connection from the start nonetheless.
“I was biologically conceived in Taiwan, although I was born in Hong Kong, so technically I was made in Taiwan,” he said.
Mr. Ma’s wife, Chow Mei-ching, is a lawyer for a government-controlled Taiwanese bank and takes pride in riding the bus to work every day.
Ms. Chow put her husband through Harvard by working as a research assistant, an assistant librarian and even as maître d’hôtel at a Chinese restaurant. They have two grown daughters, both living in the United States.
Two of the earliest signs of a likely thaw in relations with Beijing may be shaggy and four-legged: Mr. Ma said Taiwan would be happy to accept China’s three-year-old offer of two pandas. “We have already prepared our zoo for that purpose,” Mr. Ma said. “We’ve already trained our employees to grow the bamboo they eat.”