Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Can Su Tseng-chang recognize himself in the Mirror?

Can Su Tseng-chang recognize himself in the Mirror?
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 11, 2007

"Premier" Su Tseng-chang -- Can he still recognize himself in the mirror?

Mirror, mirror, one the wall, who's the ugliest of them all?

Comment: The following United Daily News editorial informs us that Su Tseng-chang was once a stand-up guy.

I'm skeptical as hell. But the UDN is the most trustworthy newspaper on Taiwan, so despite my skepticism, I'm inclined to take them at their word.

The only Su Tseng-chang I know about is the current version, the one the UDN editorial describes as a kleptocrat and a dictator, the one whom the UDN editors believe may have become a kleptocrat and a dictator due to the electoral demands of democratic politics.

The late, great Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek noted that in democratic politics "the worst get on top."

Taking Hayek's logic to its logical conclusion, we can safely conclude that "in order to get on top in democratic politics, one must become one of the worst."

If indeed that is the case, what more damning indictment of the corrupting influence of democracy could one ask for?

Can Su Tseng-chang recognize himself in the Mirror?

United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 11, 2007

When Su Tseng-chang rose from bed this morning and looked in the mirror, did he recognize himself? Recently Su Tseng-chang has been behaving like a different person. He suddenly began promoting the "Rectification of Names," joking about moving the capital to southern Taiwan, talking about legalizing gambling and horse racing, and interfering with the neutral and independent National Communications Commission (NCC) and Central Election Committee. The simple, straightforward "Old Chang" has vanished. What everyone sees today is a scheming and dictatorial premier for whom the ends justifies the means. Is Su Tseng-chang pleased with what he sees in the mirror?

As a presidential candidate who hasn't resigned his current position as he should, Su Tseng-chang enjoys a distinct advantage. With abundant resources at his disposal, he could easily establish a record of achievements for his administration. But this is also a major test of Su Tseng-chang's character and powers of discrimination. It is precisely at such moments that an individual who possesses power can demonstrate his ability to practice moderation, eschew favoritism, reject opportunism, and display empathy. This is when we get to see what a man is made of.

Unfortunately, Su Tseng-chang has not made wise use of the authority and the resources at his disposal to do what a national leader ought to. Instead, he has abused his authority and misused his resources for short-term electoral advantage. If he continues down this path, will Su Tseng-chang transform his clearcut advantages into fatal liabilities?

Take his handling of the NCC for example. Su Tseng-chang not only revealed his dark side, he exceeded his legal authority. When an NCC committee member hired a relative as his chauffeur, that was clearly improper. The shameful conduct of a tiny minority of committee members has defiled the image of the NCC. However, the Su cabinet's handling of this matter was hardly in accordance with either the letter or spirit of the law. Instead, it was motivated from beginning to end by a desire to do away with the NCC altogether. Because its political agenda was so obvious, the Su cabinet has completely lost the right to claim that it is "merely governing in accordance with the law."

Premier Su is the nation's chief executive. And yet he feels nothing but hostility toward a governmental body entrusted with a special duty, and wants nothing more than to destroy that body. This is something truly difficult to imagine. A nation's chief executive ought to show respect for all its officials, even lowly local leaders. Besides, the NCC is a specially established, wholly independent agency. The Executive Yuan has supervisory authority over the NCC. But when Su Tseng-chang rashly ordered an NCC Committee Member suspended on the basis of a single administrator without portfolio's one-sided report, he is guilty not only of usurping authority, he is guilty of overstepping the principle of "nulla poena sine lege" (no penalty without a law). Su Tseng-chang is guilty not only of violating the law, he is guilty of violating the constitution.

"Governing in accordance with the law" is a constitutional principle that any chief executive should observe. But based on the way Su Tseng-chang has taken a scalpel to the NCC, what the people are actually seeing is the face of a dictator without the slightest regard for the Rule of Law. Besides, even as the Su cabinet brandishes a club against the NCC, it is simultaneously "mediating" the Taiwan Television Enterprise (TTV) proxy battle. If an NCC Committee Member who hires a relative as his chauffeur deserves to be severely punished, then what punishment does the Su cabinet deserve for selling a publicly-operated television station to its political cronies? Isn't the Su cabinet's crime far more egregious than the NCC Committee Member's?

Furthermore, even as the struggle between the ruling and opposition parties over the Central Election Committee (CEC) rages, word that the Executive Yuan intends to bulldoze its way through any opposition has spread, that it intends to nominate the committee members for the new session on its own, ignoring legislative procedure, and displaying an attitude of shocking barbarism. If this is indeed the case, then on the one hand the Democratic Progressive Party is ignoring the legislature. On the other hand the Su cabinet is illegally forming a Central Election Committee. Can this still be considered a democratic nation? Can the chief executive of a democratic nation be allowed to get away with behavior as lawless as this? If the Executive Yuan persists in manipulating the CEC in this manner, is this not tantamount to pulling democracy out by the roots? Does a Su Tseng-chang who behaves in such a manner, have the effrontery to announce that he is a candidate for president?

All sorts of controversial Su cabinet measures have not only given the public no time to react, they have even dumbfounded comrades within his own party. These measures include the transfer of central government agencies to Xinzhuang and the legalization of gambling and horse racing, all in an attempt to abuse his authority delivering pork in order to win votes. These measures have never been submitted for discussion, and their feasibility remains questionable. Su Tseng-chang used to be on the straight and level. Suddenly however, he has changed into someone prone to empty boasts, dictatorial attitudes, and lawless behavior. Have election concerns cast an evil spell upon him? Or has Su Tseng-chang made a conscious decision to debase himself?

When Su Tseng-chang looks in the mirror in the morning, he would do well to ask himself whether he likes what he sees. If Su Tseng-chang hopes to be elected president in 2008, he cannot allow himself to become a kleptocrat who misuses national resources, and must not turn himself into a dictator who abuses government authority. He must mold himself into a leader who can be trusted, and not turn himself into a monster who will stop at nothing to get elected.

In fact, the people have already noticed the change in Su Tseng-chang. The effect is already reflected in Premier Su's downward slide in opinion polls. When Su Tseng-chang looks at himself in the mirror in the morning, does he see his own image and the perversion of his own spirit?

Original Chinese below:


今 晨起來,蘇貞昌面對鏡子,不知道會不會覺得自己有點陌生?蘇貞昌最近的表現,忽而狂推正名,忽而戲言遷都,忽而心血來潮開放賭博賽馬,忽而蠻橫介入獨立機 構NCC及中選會;原本那個素樸平實的「昌仔」不見了,大家看到的是一個不擇手段的既權謀又獨裁的閣揆。蘇貞昌可滿意自己現在的面貌?



以 處理NCC開鍘事件為例,蘇貞昌不僅暴露了其陰晦的一面,更踰越了法治界線。NCC委員聘用親屬擔任司機,誠屬不當;少數委員的醜行,更使NCC形象蒙 羞。然而,蘇內閣處理此事,並非就法論法,亦非就事論事,而是自始即以瓦解NCC為目的。正由於其政治用心強烈,蘇內閣也就完全失卻了「依法行政」的立 場。

蘇揆身居全國行政首長,對於負有特殊任務的機構竟然充滿敵意,必欲摧毀而後已,這是多麼難以想像的事。即使對一個地方三級機構,行政 院長也須尊重分權的精神;更何況,NCC還是依專法成立的獨立機構。行政院雖對NCC擁有監督權,但只憑一名政務委員的片面報告,蘇揆即輕率對NCC委員 下達停職令,這不僅是擅權,且已踰越了「罪刑法定主義」的規範,是違法又違憲之舉。

「依法行政」是任何行政首長皆應遵守的憲政準則,但從 這次對NCC開鍘,人們卻看到了蘇貞昌目無法律的獨裁者面貌。何況,蘇內閣一手揮舞亂棒痛擊NCC,一手卻又介入「喬」台視股權之爭;如果說NCC委員將 司機的職缺授予親屬應受重懲,則蘇內閣欲將公營電視台賣給自己的政治轎夫更是該當何罪?蘇內閣的罪行難道不比NCC兩名委員更醜惡?

再 如,朝野爭議多時的中選會組織法之爭,最近傳出行政院擬議強渡關山,逕自啟動委員換屆提名作業,置立法程序於不顧,亦是駭人聽聞的蠻幹作風。果真如此,則 一方面民進黨抵制國會表決立法於前,另一方面蘇內閣又逕自違法設置中選會於後;這難道還算是個民主國家嗎?行政院長難道可以無法無天嗎?行政院倘是如此操 弄中選會,豈不等於要將民主根基從台灣連根拔起!蘇貞昌若真敢如此胡作非為,他還有顏面參選總統嗎?

蘇內閣最近的種種爭議措施,不僅讓輿 論來不及反應,連他的黨內同志也感瞠目結舌。包括中央部會遷移新莊副都心,包括賭場賽馬的開放,都是企圖利用行政分贓來爭取選票,且幾乎未見討論即逕拋 出,可行性備受質疑。原本風格平實的蘇貞昌,突然變得浮誇,變得獨裁,變得胡作非為;這究竟是選舉的魔咒,還是蘇貞昌的自甘沉淪?

是的, 當蘇貞昌在早晨端詳著鏡中的自己時,不妨問問自己喜不喜歡現在的面目。蘇貞昌如果想爭取二○○八的總統職位,他現在就不可使自己變成一個濫用國家資源的分 贓者,更不可使自己變成一個濫用政府權力的獨裁者。他應當努力塑造自己成為一個可以期待信靠的領導者形象,而不是將自己變成一個不擇手段的選舉妖怪。


No comments: