He Also Drank the Blood of His PatientsEverything having failed, the KMT now wants us to believe that Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je is Dr. Frankenstein
(Updated 2014.11.21, 20:00)
I’ve written two articles in the past week detailing the series of scandalous attacks that the desperate Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has launched against Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the independent mayoral candidate for Taipei City in the Nov. 29 elections. Had I waited another day, I would have had yet another example. And this latest one, which broke on Thursday, tops it all, both in terms of the defamatory nature of the accusations and in the dullness of the accusers.
So here it is. Since launching his campaign for the capital, Ko has been accused of: misusing hospital funds; bullying nurses; harvesting organs taken from Falun Gong victims in China; unduly taking credit for an operation on his opponent Sean Lien (連勝文) in 2010 after the latter was shot in the face, being a Japanese colonial subject; launching the “worst slander campaign in the nation’s history” against Lien; being a closet “splittist”; and having a “secret contract” with the opposition DPP.
Every single one of those accusations hasn’t passed the test of scrutiny, and no evidence has emerged to support any of the KMT’s claims. Either Ko is a spymaster who covers his tracks well, or he did none of the things he stands accused of. Ko has therefore emerged with his reputation mostly intact.
But incapable of coming up with, or properly explaining, policies for the city, the Lien camp has persisted, child like, in issuing allegations against Ko. Perhaps it hopes for a lucky mortar hit against enemy positions, that something will finally stick and turn the tide in their favor.
This strategy yielded its latest ugly baby on Thursday, with two KMT legislators claiming they had “heard” from unnamed medical professionals at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) that presumably under Ko’s guidance, the hospital had — hear this — “tricked” coroners into issuing death certificates for individuals whose organs were then to be used for transplant. The plot could come straight from a Robin Cook novel. According to the KMT legislators, the hospital first gave high doses of phentolamine, a nonselective alpha-adrenergic antagonist, to “dozens” of accident victims, which led to a sudden drop in blood pressure and eventually cardiac arrest. The doctors then connected the patients to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device to increase the viability of their organs, and turned down the ECMO before the M.E. or coroner arrived, whereupon the patient was pronounced dead and voilà! Death certificate in hand, the organs can be harvested.
That such practices are unethical is beyond doubt. In fact, the way it is described by the KMT pair, it constitutes murder. “They murdered potential donors solely to be able to retrieve their organs and someone else’s life,” one of them told the legislature.
Now if Ko, as the KMT wants us to believe, is an unethical monster who uses his intelligence to cover up all the evidence of his misdeeds, then surely he would have made sure that the NTUH horror were buried very deeply. So what did he do? According to the KMT, Ko, the former convener of the hospital’s organ procurement team, first-authored an article (“Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support of donor abdominal organs in non-heart-beating donors”) in the academic journal Clinical Transplantation in which he presumably describes the techniques that were used in the “unethical practices” at NTUH! Ko may not be a spymaster, the Karla of John Le Carré novels, but he certainly isn’t dumb.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has said it would investigate the matter, as if government agencies under the current administration hadn’t launched enough investigations already against Ko and his supporters, a tactic oddly reminiscent of those used against DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during the 2012 elections. Ko’s camp has said it would take legal action against the accusers.*
The Japanese colonial subject is now Dr. Frankenstein. What’s rather troubling about this latest round of allegations is that the KMT felt it could wait this long to make them public. Surely, given the gruesome nature of the presumed crime, the Lien camp would have chosen to lift the veil on them well before it made public the other accusations against Ko. After all, murdering dozens of Taiwanese citizens to reap their organs is much more pressing a matter than, say, Ko verbally abusing his staff, or misusing his MG149 account. Hell, one would assume that the KMT would give precedence to the lives of ROC citizens over those of Falun Gung back in China! They didn’t and instead kept the worst crime for last — unless, of course, they come up with something even more scandalous between now and Nov. 29. (It didn’t take long: just as this article was going to print, Yok Mu-ming [郁慕明], chairman of the pro-unification New Party, compared Ko to … Hitler.)
*Facing calls by Ko to come out publicly and the signing by more than 11,000 doctors of a petition supporting Ko, the two unnamed medical experts at the origin of the KMT claims have recanted their allegations.
J. Michael Cole is editor in chief of Thinking Taiwan, a senior non-resident fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, and an Associate researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Taipei.