Saturday, April 14, 2007

Su Tseng-chang says No to the Vice-presidency

Su Tseng-chang says No to the Vice-presidency
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 14, 2007

Comment: According to the rhetoric of democratic universalism, ambitious politicians within democracies and other monopolistic states seek political office because "they wish to dedicate themselves to public service,"

If you are too old for bedtime stories, you are old enough to realize this assertion is a fairy tale.

The unseemly narcissism displayed by the ambitious politicians mentioned in the following United Daily News editorial reveals the real reason why politicians within democracies and other monopolistic states seek elective office.

They want to "be somebody." And once they have "become somebody" by winning elective office, they want to remake the world in their own image, and they want to do it using our hard-earned tax money.

Let's face it. Why should any of us give a damn which ambitious demagogue insists on being president, and which is willing to "settle" for being vice-president?

Why should any of us meekly accept the premise that these ambitious demagogues have a right to live off our tax money?

If anyone knows a better reason for rejecting democracy and opting for market anarchism than this, speak up.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (DPP)

Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-Pyng (KMT) A Pan Green Wolf in Pan Blue Sheep's Clothing?

Su Tseng-chang says No to the Vice-presidency

United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 14, 2007

The road to the presidency is riddled with obstacles. On the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) side, Su Tseng-chang has declared that if he loses the party primaries, he will turn down the vice-presidential slot. On the Kuomintang (KMT) side, Wang Jin-pyng refuses to commit to a "Ma Wang ticket."

Su Tseng-chang's declaration shows that the issue of who will be the DPP's presidential candidate may cause trouble. On the KMT side, Wang Jin-pyng's moves have made it hard for him to accept a "Ma Wang ticket" for fear of becoming a laughingstock. Not only are the identities of the candidates uncertain, so are the methods by which they will be chosen.

Su Tseng-chang's declaration that "he won't accept the vice-presidency" reveals his determination to burn his bridges, to do or die, in order to consolidate his voter base. Another consideration is the divisive effects of the primaries. Whether the result is a "Su Hsieh ticket" or a "Hsieh Su ticket," bad blood may make any shotgun marriage impossible. Su Tseng-chang has declared that "he won't accept the vice-presidency." On the one hand he is attempting to turn calls for a "Hsieh Su ticket" around, hoping to bring back swing voters. On the other hand he is rejecting the idea of a "Su Hsieh ticket." The question is if Su declares that "he won't accept the vice-presidency," can we really expect Hsieh to declare "No problem, the vice-presidency is okay with me?"

Su and Hsieh are two candidates evenly matched in popularity, but with clear differences in direction and style. Whether Su or Hsieh emerges as the DPP's presidential candidate will have a dramatically different impact on the future of the DPP and Taiwan. Therefore whether Su or Hsieh emerges as the frontrunner really does make a difference. The DPP party primaries have not allowed the differences in the two candidates to come to the fore. Su Tseng-chang's declaration that "he won't accept the vice-presidency" may be an attempt to underscore the differences between the two candidates, to prevent the party primaries from becoming focused exclusively on the issue of "who will be president and who will be vice-president." If that is the case, the election has changed from a "non zero sum" game into a "zero sum" game.

Meanwhile, inside the KMT, Wang Jin-pying has taken Ma Ying-jeou hostage. That is why Ma has reiterated that he "would give priority to Legislative Speaker Wang as his vice-presidential running mate." Wang Jin-pyng has questioned Ma Ying-jeou's status as frontrunner in no uncertain terms. He refuses to say whether he would accept the vice-presidential spot on a Ma Wang ticket. When confronted, Wang Jin-pyng will only say "Thank you," and "I will continue listening to the public." In fact, Wang Jin-pyng is merely attempting to keep Ma Ying-jeou hostage. By refusing to indicate whether he would accept the vice-presidency, he is preventing Ma Ying-jeou from settling on a campaign strategy. As long as Wang Jin-pyng refuses to clarify his position, Ma Ying-jeou cannot plan ahead. Wang Jin-pyng is giving himself maneuvering room while imprisoning Ma Ying-jeou in a box.

Su Tseng-chang has declared that "he won't accept the vice-presidency." Wang Jin-pyng, even more than Su Tseng-chang, ought to do the same. Wang Jin-pyng's outrageous remark that "elite elements from an ethnic minority have no right to govern an ethnic majority," directed against Ma Ying-jeou, amounts to an open accusation that the KMT party primaries lack legitimacy. But if Ma Ying-jeou becomes the party's presidential candidate through a process that Wang Jin-pying has declared lacks legitimacy, how will Wang Jin-pyng justify becoming his running mate? Wang Jin-pyng has said that when he met with Lien Chan two days ago, Lien did not ask him to sign a pledge not to abandon the party and declare an independent candidacy. Wang Jin-pyng wants the right to abandon the party and declare an independent candidacy. At the same time he wants to lean on Lien Chan. So why not come right out and declare forthrightly that "he won't accept the vice-presidency?"

Based on political calculations, Wang Jin-pyng has refused to take a stand on a potential "Ma Wang ticket." Wang's calculating behavior harms Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT without benefitting himself. If Wang Jin-pyng were to commit to a "Ma Wang ticket," and Ma Ying-jeou was indicted, Wang could still be the KMT's presidential candidate, and could serve more effectively in Ma's stead. If Wang Jin-pyng wants us to believe that committing to a "Ma Wang ticket" today would make it harder for him to stand in for Ma tomorrow, he is not being truthful. By stalling for time, Wang Jin-pyng is engaging in wishful thinking. He wants to be certain that abandoning the party and declaring an independent candidacy is no longer an option before he accepts a "Ma Wang ticket." His political calculations are a little too devious. Wang Jin-pyng will have to decide whether to accept a "Ma Wang ticket." The KMT should give Wang Jin-pyng a deadline by which he must respond. If Wang Jin-pyng drags his feet and refuses to commit, he is not only holding Ma Ying-jeou hostage, he is holding the entire KMT hostage.

Su Tseng-chang has declared that "he won't accept the vice-presidency." But if circumstances force him to change his position, Su Tseng-chang would not rule out the DPP's vice-presidential nomination. This is what makes the DPP unique, its flexibility and willingness to see the bigger picture. So far Wang Jin-pyng has not declared whether he would accept the vice-presidency. His failure to do so will undermine his legitimacy in the event he belatedly does. It will also endanger the KMT's election prospects. Damaging the party without benefitting himself. Is this the strategy Wang Jin-pyng has chosen?

For the KMT and DPP, the election has focused on the question of who is or is not willing to accept the vice-presidency. Su Tseng-chang has decided to participate in DPP party primaries and has declared that "he won't accept the vice-presidency." Wang Jin-pyng on the other hand, has denounced the KMT party primaries and refused to state whether he would accept the vice-presidency. The reactions of the two parties to similar circumstances underscore their very real differences.

Original Chinese below:











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