Monday, September 17, 2007

A Plebiscite hijacks an Election, A Bian hijacks the People

A Plebiscite hijacks an Election, A Bian hijacks the People
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
September 17, 2007

After two frantic demonstrations, one Green and one Blue, ruling government and opposition party leaders seem pleased with the results. But many people may be tempted to ask: Now what? Do political leaders on Taiwan have nothing more important to attend to? Is the "Plebiscite to Join the UN" the only topic they intend to tackle between now and March next year? Unfortunately the answer appears to be yes.

Judging by the result, the biggest winner is Chen Shui-bian. Everyone else was a loser. Remember the same time last year? Public outrage over ruling DPP corruption, brought to a head by the Red Shirt Army, nearly drove Chen out of office. Yet today he has succeeded into shifting the focus from "anti-corruption" to a "Plebiscite to Join the UN." Once he was being passively attacked. Now he has seized the offensive. He has turned his vistor status into a home field advantage. The "Hsieh/Su ticket" been demoted to the status of supporting players. Even the "Ma/Hsiao ticket" can only join the parade. With the result so rewarding for him, what reason does Chen Shui-bian have not to milk it for all it's worth?

Everyone capable of rational thought knows perfectly well that the "Plebiscite to Join the UN" is an absurd charade. From beginning to end it has been a phony issue manipulated for election purposes. Those in the know, know that the plebiscite is a case of the "Emperor's New Clothes." But what of it? If the emperor knows no shame, and insists on going through the motions of donning his "new clothes," can others refuse to play along?

It makes no difference how long Chen Shui-bian remains president. Every day he remains in the presidential palace, he will abuse his authority to the fullest, The term "lame duck" is not in his dictionary. If he wants to exploit the "Plebiscite to Join the UN" for political advantage, he will abuse the power of his office mobilizing the machinery of government. It makes no difference how many people commit suicide by carbon monoxide every day. It makes no difference how many hundreds of millions in tax money are squandered on the "Plebiscite to Join the UN." It makes no difference how many political posters and advertisements peoples are forced to see and hear. Once he "Plebiscite to Join the UN" demonstration is given the green light, two hundred million NT in tax money will be consumed in the blink of an eye. How much more money will be squandered? Who knows? Haven't central government authorities been complaining about budgets being tight? So why is that whenever President Chen issues an order, money is suddenly no object?

Many people want to scream: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" So many matters are more important and urgent than the "Plebiscite to Join the UN." What is the purpose of sweeping aside these matters and compelling the entire nation to pursue this unachievable goal? The answer is this: When someone is unwilling to leave office and face possible prosecution for corruption, why would he pay the slightest attention to your protests? When he has successfully rallied Deep Green mob sentiment, why would he ever yell "Stop."

After repeated warnings from US officials, many people worried that Washington/Taipei relations would suffer, Not only was Chen Shui-bian unconcerned, he repeatedly sounded the call to arms. He assumed an air of casual defiance, as if ready and willing to have it out with the US and mainland China. We shouldn't be surprised. Because the more the US and mainland China lash out at him, the more sympathy he will gain from an angry public. Any diplomatic mess can be left to his successor. As he figures it, no matter how big a mess he leaves, he won't need to take any responsibility whatsoever. Why should he fear when it's "Heads I win, tails you lose?"

The hotter the "Plebiscite to Join the UN" burns, the dimmer Hsieh and Su's lights burn. What do any factional rivalries or grievances that Hsieh and Su have count for now? The pair have been demoted to the status of Ping and Pang in Turandot, to Chen's attendants. During "Plebiscite to Join the UN" rallies, the keynote speaker is always Chen Shui-bian. Hsieh and Su can forget about competing. Both have been marginalized. Chen and Chen alone is masterminding this election.

Many people are also criticizing Ma Ying-jeou and Vincent Siew for meekly joining the parade. Not only have Ma and Siew lost their home court advantage, they have alienated Deep Blue voters. The question is, did they have a choice? In 2004, the Lien/Soong ticket focused on the economy. An absurd plebiscite followed by an even more absurd "assassination attempt" pushed substantive debate off the table. Chen Shui-bian has invested all of the government's resources into the "Plebiscite to Join the UN." The US and mainland China have been forced to dance to his tune. Ma and Siew may scream about the economy until they are hoarse, but will voters care? If they refuse to knuckle under, if on September 15, they refuse to join the parade, they will receive no media coverage whatsoever. If on the other hand they take to the streets wearing blue and white "Made in Taiwan" rubber sandals, it makes no difference how ridiculous they might look. At least they will get half of the media coverage. Whether they can shift the focus of debate is another matter altogether.

See what we mean? This is our plight. A president whose term in office ends in half a year, cannot control his own son in law's insider trading or account for the irregularities in his own State Affairs Confidential Expense case. Yet he can hijack the Democratic Progressive Party, hijack the Executive Yuan, hijack Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang, hijack the Kuomintang and the Ma/Siew ticket, even hijack the ordinary citizen. Right now nobody can tell A Bian to shut up. Nobody can tell him to cease and desist. In the coming half year, we will witness a presidential election being hijacked by a plebiscite. We will do so as A Bian's hostages.












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