Anti-corruption: The True Spirit of 228!
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 27, 2008
February 28 is here again. The DPP's eight years in power have proven one thing: Taiwan's political problems cannot be resolved by mendaciously casting them as "ethnic struggles." Taiwan's political problems can only be resolved by addressing the relationship between "those who rule," and "those who are ruled."
The DPP has used the "228 Incident" to define and manipulate its alleged "ethnic struggle." When the incident occurred, provincial origin was one factor. But the underlying cause of the incident was the government corruption and misrule. Back then the government was in the hands of "mainlanders." Sixty years later the government is in the hands of the Democratic Progressive Party, a self-proclaimed "native Taiwanese" regime. This "native Taiwanese" regime is also riddled with corruption. This tells us that the 228 Incident was not about "ethnic struggle," therefore the solution to the problems of 228 is not "ethnic struggle." All citizens, regardless of "ethnicity" (or more precisely, "social groups") are among "those who are ruled." Together, they must remain eternally vigilant against "those who rule." This is the correct path for Taiwan's politics.
Sixty years ago, "those who ruled" corruptly and incompetently were "mainlanders" belonging to the KMT. Sixty years later, "those who rule" corruptly and incompetently are "native Taiwanese" officials of the DPP. The issue was never "mainlanders vs. Taiwanese." The issue, from beginning to end, was always about "those who rule" vs. "those who are ruled."
The true spirit of 228 is anti-corruption. At the time, a common expression was "fan yu zheng," literally "opposition to bad government." In other words, the essence of the incident was a tragic struggle by "those who were ruled" against the corruption and incompetence of "those who ruled." Alleged "ethnic antagonism" was antagonism between "those who ruled" and "those who were ruled." It was not any "Original Sin" or "predestindation" on the part of "mainlanders."
The DPP "commemorates" February 28 primarily through a selective reading of history, and by putting history on freeze. They have freeze-framed history on Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang, casting them as the "chief culprits in the 228 Incident." They have totally discounted the KMT's achievements and reparations. They have repeatedly clicked "rewind," returning Taiwan's society to February 28, sixty years ago. They ignore the fact that "mainlanders" 60 years later are not the "mainlanders" of 60 years ago, and that "Taiwanese" 60 years later are not the "Taiwanese" of 60 years ago.
Over the past eight years, the corrupt and incompetent ruling Democratic Progressive Party knows only how to denounce its predecessor as an "alien regime." It does not know how to reflect upon its own corruption and incompetence, let alone engage in reform. It has reflexively manipulated "Taiwanese Pathos," playing upon a Taiwanese perception of chronic victimization. It uses this Taiwanese Pathos against an artifically concocted boogyman, an "alien regime." It uses it against those who were in power 60 years ago. It is as if the DPP hadn't been in power over the past eight years. It is as if the DPP is not the ruling party, and therefore responsible for what needs to be done.
This "228 Colored Vision of History" in which everything is about 228, and nothing is unrelated to 228, has turned the DPP into a party that dwells chronically upon the plight of "Taiwan's persecuted victims." It remains incapable of assuming a responsible role as "Rulers of Taiwan." Instead, the DPP has degenerated into a corrupt "exploiter of Taiwan," even as it dons the mantle of "champion of Taiwan's persecuted victims." When over one million ROC citizens protested the DPP's brazen corruption during the Red Shirt Army street demonstrations, the DPP had the temerity to denounce them as "Chi-Com Fellow Travelers."
If the 228 Incident is defined as "a tragic protest by those being ruled against those who rule," then it becomes an invaluable asset in the advancement of democracy and our understanding of history. During the 228 era, the people on Taiwan protested Kuomintang corruption and misrule. Sixty years later, the people of Taiwan have stood up to protest Democratic Progressive Party corruption and misrule. Those who learn the lessons of history will be spared the need to repeat them. If the 228 Incident is misleadingly defined as an "ethnic" struggle, then it will become a perpetual curse that will tear apart "those being ruled." Taiwan will spin its wheels endlessly, going nowhere.
The DPP's 228-oriented "ethnic struggles" over the past two years have torn apart "those who are being ruled" even more severely. The 228 Incident has shielded corrupt rulers from prosecution, by mischaracterizing an anti-corruption struggle as an "ethnic" struggle.
Take a look at the US presidential election. The history of black and white relations in the United States is written in blood. It was far more bitter than any alleged "ethnic" struggle on Taiwan. But out pops African American candidate Barak Obama, who has become America's collective savior. He is seen as the spokesman for a truly grass-roots, bottom up reestablishment of political justice, national spirit, and civilized values. If the United States can free itself from a century long struggle over "ethnicity," can the Republic of China do any less?
Since the 228 Incident, Taiwan has undergone 61 years of storm and strife. Citizens of the Republic of China on Taiwan should must reclaim the right to define the 228 Incident from the Democratic Progressive Party. They must not permit the DPP to further demagogue the 228 Incident by casting it as an "ethnic" struggle.
The true spirit of the 228 Incident is opposition to the corruption and incompetence of an unjust ruler. That is the true meaning of 228.