Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chen and Hsieh, Then and Now

Chen and Hsieh, Then and Now
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 12, 2007

Comment: This editorial correctly notes that:

If Frank Hsieh wants to tout his "Taiwanese Reformation," he must first clean up his own image, he must change the DPP's tune, and he must recalibrate the nation's political and economic goals.

Is that all?

Good luck. Because it ain't gonna happen.

Chen and Hsieh, Then and Now
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 12, 2007

In 2000, Chen Shui-bian represented the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in its presidential bid. In 2008, Frank Hsieh will represent the DPP in its presidential bid. Eight years later, the political climate is completely different. So are Chen and Hsieh's personal qualifications.

For starters, their public personas are different. Chen Shui-bian's public persona was that of a "poor boy made good" from a "Category Three Impoverished Household" who was "always first in his class." Frank Hsieh by contrast, has been badly scarred by a string of scandals, including the Soong Chi-li scandal, the faked recording tape scandal, the Speaker of the Kaohsiung City Council vote buying scandal, the political contributions scandal, and the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit scandal. In 2000 the DPP revised its party constitution just for Chen, making him the sole candidate endorsed by the party. Frank Hsieh by contrast, has been forced to engage in bloody factional warfare, fighting his way out of encirclement by the other Princes of the DPP. Back then Chen's candidacy was said to have united the DPP. Hsieh's current victory by contast, is said to have divided the DPP. Back then Chen received Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh's endorsement. Frank Hsieh by contrast, has been labeled "treacherous" and "corrupt" by former DPP premier Su Tseng-chang. Back then Chen Shui-bian had the help of people such as Luo Wen-chia and Ma Yung-cheng. Frank Hsieh by contrast, only has the help of people such as Hsu Kuo-yung, Kuan Pi-ling, and Hsieh Hsing-yi. Chen's image back then was relatively unsullied. Hsieh's image today is much less so.

In 2000, Chen used "regime change" as a clarion call, creating an intoxicating atmosphere of "Dare to hope. Follow your dream." Back then, no one had any idea how the DPP would conduct itself once it was in power. They harbored rosy expectations. Eight years later, Frank Hsieh must answer for a DPP that has been in power for the past eight years, and for a dream of clean government has been reduced to a nightmare of corruption. Eight years later "joy and hope" have turned to pain and disillusionment. Eight years ago Chen Shui-bian asked the public to "Give the DPP a chance." Eight years later, the public wants to "Give the DPP the punishment it deserves." Eight years ago Chen Shui-bian urged the public to "Follow your dream." Eight years later, Frank Hsieh must deal with a public awakening from a nightmare.

For the past eight years, the DPP and Chen Shui-bian have skillfully manipulated the issue of Taiwan independence and social tensions. Although they have weakened the health of the nation, they have inadvertently allowed the people to see through their lies and to regain consciousness. Frank Hsieh is calling for "Taiwanese Reformation" and "Conciliation and Coexistence." The implication being that Chen Shui-bian's excesses require correction, and that he intends to change course. But even assuming Frank Hsieh is serious, does he have the wherewithal to make it happen?

In fact Frank Hsieh's "Taiwanese Reformation" and "conciliation and coexistence" today is no different from Chen Shui-bian's "New Centrist Path" back then. Both attempt to lay claim to the broadest portion of the political spectrum. The difference is that back then no one was riding on Chen Shui-bian's head. He did not have to answer to a higher authority. He could adopt a "New Centrist Path" if he wanted. Today however, Chen Shui-bian is riding on Frank Hsieh's head. Hsieh's freedom of action has been severely hampered. In 2000 Chen Shui-bian did his utmost to reduce conflict over Taiwan independence and between social groups to their minimum. Today Chen Shui-bian is doing everything in his power to increase confrontation over the issue of Taiwan independence and social tensions between different segments of society to a fever pitch. Eight years ago Chen Shui-bian exercised total control. Eight years later Frank Hsieh would like to exercise total control, but the only one who has total control is Chen Shui-bian.

The nation has undergone radical change over the past eight years. Taiwan went from the head of the Four Asian Dragons to the tail. Mainland China has not declined, but rapidly risen. Mutual trust between Taiwan and the US has reached a new low. The DPP has become political prisoner of the US. Taiwan's economy is in a depression, and people's lives are hard. Political henchmen manipulate the justice system from behind the scenes. The educational system has degenerated into a Taiwan independence theater of the absurd. Social justice is dead. The public is demoralized. The "Rectification of Names" and "New Constitution" campaigns have been trotted out repeatedly. In the end they have proven to be nothing but self-deception. "Taiwan independence" has become a synonym for "corruption and incompetence." Internal power struggles within the DPP have evolved in "wars of reunification vs. independence." Eight years ago, Chen Shui-bian did not need to face any of this. Today, eight years later, Frank Hsieh must take the heat for the DPP's broken promisesl.

In short, during the past eight years, we have fallen into dire straits. Compared to Frank Hsieh, Chen Shui-bian's public image was squeaky clean. Chen came from a "Category Three Impoverished Household." Hsieh by contrast has been characterized as "treacherous." Back then society wanted to "Give the DPP a chance." Today it wants to "Give the DPP the punishment it deserves." Back then the DPP was united. Today the DPP is divided. Back then the nation's political and economic foundation was solid. Today the the nation's political and economic foundations are crumbling. Most importantly, back then Chen Shui-bian answered to no higher authority. Today Chen Shui-bian has Frank Hsieh by the throat!

If Frank Hsieh wants to tout his "Taiwanese Reformation," he must first clean up his own image, he must change the DPP's tune, and he must recalibrate the nation's political and economic goals. The thorniest problem for Frank Hsieh is how to carry out "reform" while under Chen Shui-bian's thumb. If he can't "reform" Chen Shui-bian, then he can forget about any other "reforms."

Original Chinese below:

2007.06.12 04:14 am





其實,今日主張「台灣維新」、「和解共生」的謝長廷,與當年主張「新中間路線」的陳水扁一樣,皆是想在政治光譜上佔據較大的幅員而已。但是,當年陳水扁的頭上,沒有比他更高的權威,所以他可以向「新中間路線」移動;如今謝長廷的頭上卻有一個陳水扁,因而謝的自主性及自由度皆受壓制。簡直而言,陳水扁二○○○ 年起步時,他全力將統獨族群衝突壓到最低;但如今謝長廷起步,陳水扁卻全力將統獨族群衝突掀至最高。八年前陳水扁自己完全作得了主,八年後謝長廷卻未必能完全作主,而陳水扁仍在作主!




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