Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chao Yi-an asks: What's this for?

Chao Yi-an asks: What's this for?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
September 19, 2007

On September 15, the day of the "March to Join the UN," Chen Shui-bian boasted that "everyone in the Chen family able to walk" had showed up. His sons and daughters, and his sons-in-law and daughters-in-law formed a veritable phalanx. His grandson Chao Yi-an and Chao Yi-ting became the focus of media attention.

Little An An in particular became a media darling. Every time television anchors mentioned him, their faces revealed a mixture of affection and pity. Chen Shui-bian had been up to his neck in scandals. Now, riding the wave of the "Plebiscite to Join the UN," he was suddenly "Standing Tall."

We have no idea what sort of advanced classes Chen family elders have been providing Chao Yi-an, who is not yet six. But based on Chao Yi-an's age, he probably doesn't understand the fact and fiction behind the "Plebiscite to Join the UN." He merrily waved a Green flag, turned to DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh beside him and asked: "What's this (Plebiscite to Join the UN) sticker for?"

The adults nearby laughed at little An An's question. Nobody bothered giving him a serious explanation. But one day, 10, 20, even 30 years from now, an intellectually mature Chao Yi-an may confront the reality of Taiwan. He may recall the march his elders took him on, and find the answer he was seeking!

But until that day, 10, 20, 30 years from now, can the Taiwan independence movement's "rectification of names and authoring of a new constitution" be considered a success? Will a "Nation of Taiwan" exist? Or will Taiwan be thoroughly marginalized and suffocated? Will Taiwan and mainland China establish a win/win framework for their mutual benefit? Will Chao Yi-an's grandfather Chen Shui-bian become the Father of a "Nation of Taiwan?" Or will he become Taiwan's Public Enemy, responsible for Taiwan's destruction and decline? Will Chao Yi-an's grandfather Chen Shui-bian, his grandmother Wu Shu-cheng, his paternal grandfather Chao Yu-chu, and his father Chao Chien-min, be found not guilty? Or will they be convicts serving time for corruption?

During political marches, whether Blue or Green, children are invariably the focus of media attention. The innocence of little children always provides such a striking contrast with the dark underbelly of politics. Other children may be nothing more than the rank and file of a Blue Army or Green Army. But Chao Yi-an as "First Grandson" has been branded for life. By the time he becomes an adult, will Chao Yi-an be an honored citizen of a "Nation of Taiwan?" Will he be proud of his grandfather's meritorious service and this historic event? Will he have departed for distant shores? Will he look back at a marginalized, crumbling Taiwan? Will he consider his family background and this event something to be ashamed of?

Chen Shui-bian desperately hopes to change history's appraisal of him from "corrupt kleptocrat" to "champion of independence." Everyone in the Chen family able to walk took to the streets, raising the banner of Taiwan independence. Their real purpose was to use the occasion to jettison the image of a corrupt Chen Shui-bian, an unethical Chen Shui-bian. But will waving a magic wand made in Taiwan in fact transform Chen Shui-bian the Kleptocrat into Chen Shui-bian the Champion of Taiwan Independence?

Who can tell Chao Yi-an the purpose of this "March for a Plebiscite to Join the UN?" Should we tell him what Chen Shui-bian said? That "Nothing's going to happen. We're simply going to end up where we started." After all, when Chen Shui-bian said "Nothing's going to happen. We're simply going to end up where we started," he meant that when the march was over, there would still be no "Nation of Taiwan," there would still be no change in the name of the country, and there would still be no UN membership. What we really want to know is, what's going to happen to the corrupt Chen family? Nothing? What about Chen Shui-bian's rampant misrule, which has precipitated a national disaster? Is it too merely going to end up where it started?

On September 15, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators will stick up for Chen Shui-bian. But Chao Yi-an, who is not yet six, might not. They may be able to dress him up in a green "Taiwan for UN" T-shirt. But they won't be able to stop him from asking "What's this for?" For that matter, do the hundreds of thousands of adults whom Chen Shui-bian has led into the streets by the nose truly understand what the march if for? For whom they are marching? Are they really marching to found a "Nation of Taiwan?" Does founding a "Nation of Taiwan" mean that one "loves Taiwan? Or is Chen Shui-bian merely using them? Are they merely helping "Chen Shui-bian the Kleptocrat" turn himself into "Chen Shui-bian the Champion of Taiwan independence?"

When Chao Yi-an grows up and becomes aware of his family's reputation, what will he make of his grandfather's misrule and his grandmother's corruption? What will he make of his father and paternal grandfather's conspiratorial relationship with the First Family? What will be make of his mother Chen Hsing-yu's public falling out with her father-in-law? Will he think of Taiwan independence as "saving Taiwan, loving Taiwan?" Or will he think or Taiwan independence as "deception of oneself, and deception of others?" When the time comes Chao Yi-an to find an answer, questions will abound, and they won't be confined to "What's this sticker for?"

Chen Shui-bian may be able to fool his followers and supporters part of the time. But he prorbably won't be able to fool Chao YI-an for another 10, 20, 30 years.

Some day, Chen Shui-bian will either be known as the Father of a "Nation of Taiwan," or as the con artist and criminal responsible for Taiwan's disintegration. On that day, we will have our answer. Until that day, if Chao Yi-an asks "What's this for?" he may be asking in vain.

2007.09.19 02:51 am













No comments: