Why Dirty Tricks Persist
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 18, 2007
The details of the "Secret Burghardt/Hsiew Meeting" between American Insitute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt and KMT vice presidential candidate Vincent Hsiew were recently leaked to the press by Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Sandy Yen. Details of "Chen Shui-bian's Dirty Tricks" have been emerging over the past several days. Chen Shui-bian has screamed himself hoarse saying "Only the Kuomintang uses dirty tricks during elections!" But no matter how Chen Shui-bian might try to feign innocence, the public doubts that next year's legislative and presidential elections will be incident free. A pall hangs over Taiwan and refuses to go away.
The Blue camp has ample reason to distrust Chen. The wounds from the 319 Shooting Incident of 2004 have yet to heal. For the past seven years the Blue camp has endured too many frustrations, too many insults. The Democratic Progressive Party might mock the Kuomintang and accuse it of having a persecution complex. But it must face the fact that the US no longer trusts Chen Shui-bian either. Following regime change in 2000, Chen Shui-bian boasted he was responsible for the closest relations ever between Taipei and Washington. Now, in Washington's eyes, Chen Shui-bian is the political figure most likely to make trouble for the US in the Taiwan Strait during the upcoming elections.
The Democratic Progressive Party knows how to win elections. The public knows this. It knows that the DPP is led by a highly capable campaign strategist -- none other than Chen himself. Washington's deep distrust of Chen Shui-bian did not begin yesterday. Nor was it revealed only after the "Secret Burghardt/Hsiew Meeting." Similar reports were leaked earlier this year, one after another, directly and indirectly, by US officials, culminating with Raymond Burghardt's arrival one month before the legislative elections. Why did Burghardt come? Why did he personally call on ruling and opposition political leaders? Raymond Burghardt is hardly unfamiliar with Taiwan. He experienced the 1996 Straits Crisis. He came because he was conveying an important message and expressing a deep concern.
Before leaving, Raymond Burghardt met with reporters. He was tactful but direct. During his discussion with Chen Shui-bian, Chen reiterated his pledges to the US. The one pledge Washington took most seriously was his pledge that political power would be peacefully transferred in 2008.
Taiwan has already undergone a peaceful transfer of power. The Democratic Progressive Party bills itself as "democratic" and "progressive." It wrested power from the authoritarian KMT via the ballot box. Yet Washington repeatedly demanded that it provide assurances that "political power would be transferred peacefully." Isn't the DPP embarrassed? Leaks from the "Secret Burghardt/Hsiew Conference" alleged that for the sake of victory, Chen Shui-bian might even sacrifice the life of Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh. Hsieh poo-pooed the possibility. But does Hsieh really trust Chen Shui-bian? Hsieh's campaign manager Lee Ying-yuan accused the Ma Ying-jeou camp of collecting comments Hsieh made on different occasions, then quoting them out of context to US officials. Lee accused the Ma camp of attempting to give US officials the impression that "Hsieh is just like Chen, someone who flip-flops constantly, therefore someone who cannot be trusted." Lee's remarks revealed that Hsieh was even more frustrated wtih Chen than he was with Ma.
Earlier this year, Chen Shui-bian pushed hard on his Plebiscite to Join the UN. The issue remains an unexploded bomb, buried in Taiwan's political landscape. Over this unexploded bomb, the US has repeatedly chastised Chen Shui-bian. Over this unexploded bomb, Chen Shui-bian feels compelled to ram through his single-stage balloting procedure. Because his single-stage balloting procedure has not met with acceptance by rank and file election officials, he is threatening to impose martial law, to "postpone" the legislative elections, to declare the election null and void. Chen's threat to impose martial law has provoked US anger. Yet Chen had the cheek to pass the buck to political pundits. The Central Election Committee, in accordance with Chen Shui-bian's wishes, delayed the codification of the single-stage vs. two-stage balloting procedure until one month before the election. According to the Central Election Committee's draft proposal, all sorts of changes are possible. The design of the polling stations may be changed, and even the results of the election may be withheld from voters. These arbitrary changes are like a giant stone pressing down on the hearts of ordinary citizens. Will there even be an election in January? If there is an election, will the Central Election Committee withhold the results? Will Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party acknowledge the validity of the results? Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party may be unwilling to accept the results, but the ongoing controversy tells us the public has already cast a vote of non-confidence in Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party.
Why doesn't the US government trust Chen and the DPP? For the same reason that the public on Taiwan doesn't trust Chen and the DPP. Just look at the ruling regime's lawless behavior over the past year. Without Legislative Yuan approval, the Ministry of Education changed the name of the China Postal Service and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. In defiance of the will of a democratic majority, the Central Election Committee imposed a single-stage balloting procedure on every jurisdiction on the island. Interpreting the law as it saw fit, as any dictator might, it negated the jurisdiction and autonomy of local government. Its understanding of the Rule of Law is: "I'm the government, therefore what I say is the law." The Executive Yuan is preparing to assume direct control over the independent National Communications Commission. Does the ruling party really not understand that the dirty tricks it has pulled to ensure victory at the polls are trampling over constitutionalism and the rule of law? That the harm they are inflicting on others also harms themselves?
Today, everyone within a government nominally founded on the rule of law, is able to get away with violating the law or manipulating the law. Any law that benefits them is carved in granite. Any law that inconveniences them is flushed down the toilet. Are there any constitutional checks and balances that can restrain such a government? What kind of outrages is such a government free to commit? Does Chen Shui-bian have any dirty tricks planned for the upcoming elections? Only Chen bian knows for certain. How many dirty tricks does Chen have planned? The public on Taiwan had better wake up and find out!
藍營對陳水扁的不信任，其來有自。可以說，四年前三一九兩顆子彈的傷痕猶未撫平；也可以說，這七年多來受了太多氣或吃了太多虧。民進黨大可譏笑國民黨有被 迫害妄想症，但卻不能不面對陳水扁已不被美國信任的現實。二千年政黨輪替前後，陳水扁曾經自豪是創造台美關係最高峰的國家領導人，曾幾何時，陳水扁在美國 政府眼中，卻成了會以製造台海衝突來影響選舉的人。
民進黨擅於操作選舉，眾所皆知，箇中翹楚，非扁莫屬。美國對陳水扁的高度疑慮，非始 自今日，更非「薄蕭密會」後才曝光，類似訊息，不必推得太遠，從上半年就陸續、不斷、直接、間接從美方人士口中說出。一直到薄瑞光於立委選舉前一個月來 台，親自走訪朝野政治領袖，他到底所為何來？薄瑞光並非「不識台灣事務」的人，他是經歷過九六台海危機的重要角色，他帶來的訊息、他關切的議題，莫不反映 某種意義。
對已經有過政黨輪替經驗的台灣而言，對以民主進步自許、透過選舉打敗威權政黨的民進黨而言，「政權和平轉移」竟是一個需要一再重申的保證，這還不夠難堪 嗎？「薄蕭密會」外洩文件甚至直指，陳水扁可能為了勝選犧牲民進黨總統參選人謝長廷，謝長廷淡然以對，但是，問問謝長廷相信陳水扁嗎？謝總部執行總幹事李 應元一句批評馬營的話，或許反而真實反映謝對扁的隱痛無奈，李應元說，馬營經常性的搜集謝在各種場合的發言，並斷章取義後送給美國，為的就是要造成美國友 人的印象，「以為謝長廷和扁一樣，是個變來變去、不可信任的人」。
上半年，陳水扁硬推入聯公投，到現在還是台灣政局的未爆彈；為了這顆 未爆彈，陳水扁一再被美方人士痛批；為了這顆未爆彈，他非要在立委選舉之際硬推一階段投票；因為一階段不被多數基層選務人員接受，他又搞出戒嚴、延選、停 選、選舉無效等「思考的腹案」；戒嚴說讓美國跳腳後，扁竟將責任推給電視名嘴；一階段二階段爭議未了，中選會又秉持扁意志在選舉前一個月「籌畫延選條件法 制化」，根據中選會提出的草案，從變更投開票所到選舉結果不公告，都是造成延選的可能劇本，凡此種種，就像一塊大石頭壓住台灣人的心：元月分還有選舉嗎？ 即使選了會有結果嗎？即使有結果，陳水扁或民進黨肯承認嗎？陳水扁和民進黨可能不接受，但這一連串問號，其實已經對扁和民進黨投下否定票了。
為什麼美國政府不信任？台灣社會也懷疑？看看這一年來，執政當局到底做了什麼事，未經國會的正規法定民主程序，逕行為中華郵政和中正紀念堂更名、拆換牌； 中選會無視民主多數執意推行一階段領投票，甚至獨裁詮釋法令，否定地方選務的自治權限；如今同樣要跳過修法程序，準備以「法理論述」由行政院直接接管獨立 機關的國家傳播委員會；執政黨難道真的不知道一系列為勝選而無視民主法治程序的作法，其實就是奧步？傷人也會傷己？
當一個以法律人為主 所建構的政府，上上下下竟能如此違法玩法，法於己有利者則適用之，不利者則否定之，試問，還有什麼能約束制衡得了這個政府？一個約束制衡不了的政府，還有 什麼做不出來的事？陳水扁到底有沒有選舉奧步？陳水扁自己最清楚；而他還有多少選舉奧步？台灣人民可得張大眼睛，瞧清楚了！