Monday, March 19, 2007

Forgotten by the World, Taiwan Spins Its Wheels

Forgotten by the World, Taiwan Spins Its Wheels
China Times Editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
March 19, 2007

Comment: The following China Times Editorial, "Forgotten by the World, Taiwan Spins Its Wheels," reveals the predictable and catastrophic consequence of adopting democracy, a congenitally defective political system worshiped by its modern day champions, but rightly detested by America's Founding Fathers.

Thomas Paine

As Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense and champion of the American Revolution observed:
"A democracy is the most vile form of government there is!"

John Adams

As John Adams, 2nd President of the United States observed:

"Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

James Madison

As James Madison, 4th President of the United States and Father of the Constitution observed:

"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death."

America's Founding Fathers attempted to safeguard against the defects of democracy by establishing a constitutional republic, a political system they believed to be vastly superior to democracy.

They believed that a constitutional republic was the political system that held the most hope of ensuring the long term preservation of natural rights and individual liberty.

They were absolutely right about a constitutional republic being immeasurably superior to democracy.

Unfortunately they were overly optimistic about the ability of a constitutional republic to avoid degenerating into a democracy.

Advocates of market anarchism know, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that constitutional restraints such as the "separation of powers" can only delay, not permanently safeguard a republic against degenerating into a democracy.

And degenerate into democracies is exactly what both the two century old US of A and the century old R of C have done.

Over the past two decades, the Republic of China has degenerated from an admittedly flawed republic under the Two Chiangs, into a full-fledged democracy under Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian.

In case champions of democracy think that's a compliment, it's not.

Republic of China citizens living in the Taiwan region of China are now feeling the effects of this political degeneration, and paying a heavy price for their political naivete.

As you read the China Times editorial below, think of the above quotes from the Founding Fathers of America, and note the uncanny relevance they have to Taiwan's current plight.

Democracy, the Worst Form of Government ever Tried
Democracy, the Worst Form of Government ever Tried, Part II
Democracy, the Worst Form of Government ever Tried, Part III

Forgotten by the World, Taiwan Spins Its Wheels
China Times Editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
March 19, 2007

In its recent 20th anniversary issue cover story, "The Journalist" weekly addressed a topic that receives little attention on today's Taiwan: "2007, The Lost Year," subtitled "Taiwan forgets the world, the world forsakes Taiwan."

Why the title "2007, The Lost Year?" This publication has listed several topics for this year's global agenda, including global warming countermeasures, progress with ASEAN, and the start-up of Asian currency and bond institutions. By contrast, what has Taiwan's agenda been this year? Taiwan's agenda has been the preliminary hearing for [Chen Shui-bian's] State Affairs Confidential Expenses case, the preliminary hearing for Ma Ying-jeou's Special Expenses case, and the jockeying for advantage among Blue and Green camp political stars. Put simply, Taiwan's ruling elite is utterly indifferent to topics which political elites in neighboring East Asia are focused on and busy addressing.

Some people may think that because it's only March, it's still early. But the truth is the nomination processes for the presidential and legislative elections are just getting warmed up. The major players haven't even entered the arena yet. These important issues, which concern the governments of the world, won't be anything that Taiwan's political stars care to respond to in the coming year. To be frank, the fact that "Taiwan has forgotten the outside world" is not that surprising. After all, many people are already concerned about these matters. So what if Taiwan isn't one of them? But how many people realize that many matters within Taiwan that demand attention have also been neglected, and that more and more people are indifferent to them as well?

For example, passage of the the central government's annual budget remains stalled in the legislature. In the past this was considered a serious matter that had to be passed even if it meant burning the midnight oil. But now it seems as if it makes no difference whether it passes or not. For example, the Control Yuan has been in limbo for nearly three years, close to the length of a Control Yuan member's term of office. How many major cases remain unsolved? For a time it looked as if it would start up again, but recently no more news has been forthcoming, and many on Taiwan already seem accustomed to not having a Control Yuan at all. Look at our presidential office. Everyone from presidential mansion staff to secretarial staff and accounting staff have been caught in the State Affairs Confidential Expenses storm. And yet President Chen constantly resorts to all kinds of evasions to avoid prosecution, using delaying tactics and hoping for more favorable circumstances. Last year the Red Shirt Army took to the streets repeatedly in protest. This year no one can even be bothered. The past few months have witnessed a rampant increase in robbery and rape. And yet hardly anyone remembers the premier's boasts and pledges to fight crime. As for the new prosecutor general, approved only after repeated review sessions, no sooner did he assume office than rumors of inappropriate socializing and exchanging of toasts with litigants at evening banquets spread. The litigants act as if the scandal is a matter of indifference. Will such a prosecutor general really be able to stand straight and prosecute major cases? Even if some people care, what can they do? Furthermore, our secretary of defense has insisted all year that he is not clinging to his official position, but until now he has been squatting in his office, playing word games, and acting like a smart aleck. The current minister of education talks about increasing compulsory education to 12 years, but when many teachers and parents consider who the minister of education is, a chill runs down their back.

The above examples are merely a short list off the top of our heads. Actually we could go on indefinitely. All these phenomenon add up to the same conclusion: Taiwan is spinning its wheels. No one should belittle the the system's absurdities and turn a blind eye to them. The public watches these major and minor political players rushing on and off stage, visiting here and visiting there, telling you they are doing this and that, when in fact all they are doing is taking two steps forward and two steps back, diverting our attention with "flavor of the day" controversies, then two days later, acting as if none of it ever happened!

As long as elections are involved, such controversies will be manipulated for all they are worth. Actually, next year's presidential election is one year off, and the legislative elections seven to eight months off. But it appears that the campaigns have already begun in earnest. Political rhetoric has taken the podium by storm: "Anti-Blue Polls" in the DPP party primaries, the "Rectification of Names" for state-owned enterprises, "Four Noes and One Yes," and the tearing down of Chiang Kai-shek's bronze statues. No move is subject to legal scrutiny or thoughtful debate. No one asks whether the move will provoke social polarization. As soon as the bell rings, they're out of the gates, often giving the moves euphemistic names such as "Judicial Reform," when in fact what the international media sees is: "Cultural Revolution!"

The global agenda mentioned at the beginning has utterly vanished from the domestic picture. Until now our leaders have attempted to shout cheap slogans in order to provoke cross-Straits tensions, not realizing that the opposite side of the Strait is undergoing rapid economic transformation and leading the reorganization of the East Asian strategic scene. Where are Taiwan's countermeasures? Who knows? At the same time, our leaders relentlessly seek to promote the "Rectification of Names," eliminate all vestiges of Chiang Kai-shek's legacy, and ratchet up internal social polarizaton. They remain callously indifferent to the personal safety of women on Taiwan, to the well-being of 20,000 latchkey kids, including some 16,000 school children who fix all three daily meals on their own. What can one say, except that not only has "Taiwan forgotten the world, Taiwan has even forgotten itself."

Original Chinese below:









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