The Election may not be "Postponed"
China Times editoral (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 13, 2007
When the Associated Press interviewed Chen Shui-bian the other day, he solemnly promised that "The legislative and presidential elections will be held as scheduled." But the Central Election Committee suddenly began making noises about "emergency measures in the event of a natural disaster or other force majeure circumstances on the eve of the election," leaving one with an uneasy sense of dread. Sure enough, the scenario we most feared has materialized.
Frankly, we aren't really worried about Chen declaring martial law, because he doesn't dare. Nor are we worried that the Plebiscite to Join the UN will nullify his "Five Noes" pledge. After all, given relentless pressure from Washington, whether a majority of the voters participate in the plebiscite, or whether the plebiscite passes, is irrelevant. What worries us is that everyones' attention is focused on the controversy over martial law and the Plebiscite to Join the UN. Everyone is neglecting the possibility that Chen may "postpone" the election. This scenario, which Washington may permit Chen to get away with, is Chen's most realistic means of remaining in office and avoiding prosecution.
We are concerned about several issues: First, Chen Shui-bian did indeed say that "Some people have suggested postponing the election." Because he mentioned this the same time he dropped his "martial law" bombshell, the impact was diluted, and it went unnoticed. Public attention was focused elsewhere, and the prospect that the election might be "postponed" was given a free pass. Secondly, why did the Central Election Committee raise this issue now, and not earlier or later? Why did it choose this moment to mention "emergency measures in the event of force majeure circumstances?" Since the ROC lifted martial law two decades ago, it has held dozens of major and minor elections. It has encountered every kind of natural disaster in the interim. What's so special about the two elections next year? Is something going to happen that existing laws cannot cope with? What exactly does the Chen regime mean by "other force majeure circumstances"? Are we really supposed to believe that it isn't up to its usual tricks?
Now think back. Why did Chen Shui-bian deliberately mention "postponing" the election as an option he was considering? Why did he mention it in the same breath as "declaring martial law?" Could it be that he was resorting to "diversionary tactics?" His "martial law" bombshell got everyones' attention. Martial law is not feasilbe. But "postponing" the election is. And maybe "postponing" the election he wanted all along. For example, the legislative election might be postponed and held on the same day as the presidential election. Don't assume it's impossible. On today's Taiwan, given Chen Shui-bian's lawlessness, nothing is impossible?
Besides, the holding of regular elections is something that we ought to be able to take for granted. Any responsible ruling party has a duty to ensure that elections are exempt from interference. Assuming that's the case, why did Chen make such a show of assuring Associated Press reporters that "Of course the legislative and presidential elections will be held as scheduled?" Why did a routine matter require such special assurances?
First Chen Shui-bian dropped a hint that "Some people have suggested postponing the election." Then he guaranteed that the election "would be held as scheduled." Then the Central Election Committee made funny noises about "emergency measures in the event of a natural disaster or other force majeure circumstances on the eve of the election." All this adds up to a sneaking suspicion that behind all of Chen's talk of "postponing the election," he has a hidden agenda.
The Blue and Green camps have yet to agree on whether to adopt a single stage or two stage balloting procedure. And in the short term, it does not appear that they will. Only one month remains before election day. Time is growing short, and room for compromise is diminishing. The prospect of a "one country, two systems" balloting procedure may be unavoidable. But isn't that precisely what Chen Shui-bian had in mind with his tough talk of "declaring martial law" and "postponing the election?" The situation remains unresolved. Martial law, as we have noted, is impossible. But "postponing the election" is not. As long as Chen can take advantage of the dispute over the balloting procedure, and allege that it constitutes some sort of "force majeure circumstance," anything is possible.
We hope that our concerns are unwarranted, that our speculations are illusory, and that the rumors are untrue. The Central Election Committee must explain to the nation why they raised the spectre of unspecified "force majeure circumstances" at such a sensitive moment. Absent any convincing reasons, they must immediately desist from such provocations. Prevailing election laws ought to adequate to deal with any eventualities. The Central Election Committee, an agency charged with policing elections, must not become a criminal guilty of sabotaging elections!
The ruling party must assure the public, not the foreign media, that it will hold the legislative and presidential elections, as scheduled, regardless of whether the Plebiscite to Join the UN is "package dealed" with the presidential election, and regardless of whether the controversy over the balloting procedure is resolved. That is its duty. If the Central Election Committee and the ruling party are unwilling to provide such an assurance, then the citizens of the nation cannot be blamed for sharing our concerns.
說得直接一點，我們其實並不擔心陳總統會宣布戒嚴，因為他確實不敢；我們其實也並不擔憂入聯公投會不會衝擊所謂「四不」承諾，畢竟在美國華府不斷加壓關切 下，選民數過不過得半，公投案成不成得了案都還是問題。我們反倒擔心的是，大家太將注意力集中在戒嚴說以及入聯公投上，反而忽略了「延後選舉」這個變數， 因為這個選項或許是所有劇本中既能避免激怒美國華府，又最具可操作性的方案。
我們的擔憂來自幾個方面：首先，陳水扁確實提過「有人建議 延後選舉」，這個說法在提出的同時因為恰好與戒嚴說並置而被沖淡，整個輿論關注焦點也全被轉移，「延後選舉」的可能性就這麼被忽略了；其次，中選會為什麼 早不研擬，晚不研擬，偏偏選這個時機突然要研擬什麼投開票日不可抗力情事處理辦法？台灣從戒嚴走到解嚴，辦了幾十年的大小選舉，什麼大風大浪沒遭遇過？明 年即將到來這兩次的選舉有非常特別嗎？有可能會發生現行法令完全無從處理的狀況嗎？什麼叫做「其他不可抗力情事」？這難道不是在暗示或預期什麼嗎？
現在再回頭想想，當初陳水扁為何刻意要將「延後選舉」列為慎重考慮的方案之一？特別是將之與「宣布戒嚴」放在一起提，是不是有所謂「聲東擊西」的寓意？戒 嚴說固然吸引大多數人的關注，但可行性畢竟不高，但「延後選舉」可能才是真正想要的結果！譬如說，將立委選舉延後到與總統選舉同時舉行，有沒有這種可能？ 千萬別說絕對不可能，現時的台灣，以陳水扁的操作風格，還有什麼事是一定不可能發生的？
更何況，定期舉行各項選舉，本來就是不需要再去 懷疑的基本原則，任何一個負責任的執政黨，都有義務要讓選舉在不受任何干預的情形下順利舉行，不是嗎？既然如此，那麼陳總統為什麼還刻意要向美聯社記者保 證「一定如期舉行立委與總統大選」？一個原本就該遵守的本分，幹嘛還要特別加以保證呢？
至少到此刻為止，藍綠陣營都還未在領投票應採一階段還是二階段上取得共識，而且也看不出這個爭議在短期內有獲得共識的跡象，而距離投票日就剩下一個月了， 想也知道隨著時程愈近，雙方讓步的空間也就愈小，換言之，非常有可能投開票「一國兩制」的情況就這麼無從避免了。而當初陳水扁會放出慎重考慮「戒嚴」、 「延後選舉」的狠話，不就是衝著這個狀況嗎？如今這個狀況並未解決，戒嚴說既已不可能，祭出「延後選舉」為什麼不可能？只要藉著領投票爭議鬧出衝突，要塑 造出某種人為的「不可抗力情事」，有什麼不可能？
我們但願一切的顧慮都是多餘的，一切的猜測都是子虛烏有的，一切的傳言都是胡說八道 的。但我們此刻非常需要中選會向全國民眾交代清楚，有什麼特別的考量，要在這個敏感的時刻研擬什麼不可抗力情事處理辦法？如果沒有特別必要，請立即停止這 個耐人尋味的做為，現有的選罷法應該可以處理所有狀況了，請中選會千萬別讓辦選務的機關，淪為摧毀選舉的幫凶！