Joint Resignations Will Help the Ruling and Opposition Parties Define Themselves
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 19, 2008
Representative to Japan Koh Se-kai's "Death before Dishonor" political gesture is pressuring Chen regime political appointees, foreign ministry officials, and executives of state-owned enterprises to submit a joint resignation. If this happens and the government conducts a thorough house-cleaning, then we really must give the DPP a giant thumbs up. If one is going to be an opposition party, this is the way to be an opposition party.
Doing so would at least solve an awkward dilemma that has prevailed ever since the change in ruling parties. On the one hand, the KMT would like to make major personnel changes as soon as possible. On the other hand, it is concerned it will be accused of carrying on a political purge. The result has been haphazard personnel assignments or rumors of personnel assignments that lead nowhere. The DPP meanwhile, constantly suspects the KMT of forming some sort of "Task Force for the Destruction of the DPP," of plotting to purge DPP appointees still in office. Now that the DPP is in the opposition, it must often witness its own members being humiliated by Pan Blue legislators. One month after the change in ruling parties, the ruling and opposition parties may have staked out their positions on the ideological spectrum, but neither side has been able to make any bold moves. Neither side is at ease. Wouldn't a joint resignation be an tremendous relief for both the Blue and Green Camps?
The ruling party could then act like a ruling party, and the opposition party could act like an opposition party. The sheep would have been separated from the goats. Pan Blue legislators would no longer be tempted to single out "Residual Greens" to cross-examine. Pan Green legislators would no longer worry about inadvertently burning one of their own. Nor would they have to endure the Blue Camp placing the blame on "officials from the previous administration." As DPP legislator Ker Chien-ming sees it, the DPP can't tolerate the KMT "using Green Camp political appointees as scapegoats to shift attention away from KMT incompetence."
Since the KMT has reclaimed the right to rule, and even promised "total governance, total responsibility," it should appoint its "Best and Brightest." But ever since the Green Camp accused Ma of conducting a political purge, he has been walking on egg shells. Many officials who should have been replaced have been kept on. By the same token, many officials appointed by the former administration find themselves caught in a dilemma. They don't know whether to stay or to go. At any moment they know they could be replaced. How many of them are going to have the presence of mind to implement new policy?
Reports of an alleged "Task Force for the Destruction of the DPP" are really rather absurd. If the DPP is so feeble it can be destroyed by some Blue Camp "Task Force," then the game is already over. The DPP might as well pack it in. Eight years ago, when the Democratic Progressive Party came to power for the first time, how did it treat Blue Camp officials who remained in office? Today the Blue Camp is merely treating them the same way. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Why not use the opportunity to establish a tradition of joint resignations based on whoever is the ruling party? Paranoid speculation about some "Task Force for the Destruction of the DPP" is unlikely to increase Blue Camp political momentum. But it could seriously diminish the DPP's stature.
Ironically, Representative to Japan Koh Se-kai's "Death before Dishonor" political gesture provides a way out of this predicament. If the Green Camp wishes to assign political responsibility for the Diaoyutai ramming incident, it can hardly blast the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while heaping praise on Koh Se-kai. The Green Camp can't wait to humiliate Pan Blue officials, but is unwilling to allow Koh Se-kai to appear in the Legislative Yuan, to be "humiliated" by Blue Camp legislators. To avoid the charge of double standards, the Green Camp's only choice is a joint resignation.
The solution is actually quite simple. The Blue Camp needs to assume total political responsibility. The Green Camp needs to provide comprehensive checks and balances. If five or six hundred officials in the Ma administration still have their hearts in the Green Camp, isn't something seriously wrong with the arrangement? The Green Camp was in the political opposition for a long time. The first time it took office it lacked the necessary talent, and was forced to recruit Blue Camp officials. This was entirely understandable. Since the Blue Camp insists it is "ready to go," it should have no problem filling hundreds of vacancies. If the KMT is not concerned about charges that it is conducting a "political purge," it should assign its own people to these positions and not look back.
Every time a U.S. presidential election results in a change in the ruling party, large numbers of former officials pack their bags and move their families home, to be replaced by new officials. Sometimes every four years. Sometimes every eight years. This is all perfectly normal. Nobody considers it the least bit strange. Nobody hints darkly of political purges of former officials. Nobody turns joint resignations into Greek tragedies. Nobody alleges the existence of a "Task Force for the Destruction of Such and Such Party." After all, this is nothing more than a routine change of ruling parties.
As for these five or six hundred officials, allegedly the DPP's Best and Brightest, will they all resign simultanously on orders from the DPP? We'll have to wait and see. After all, each of these officials has a different story. Some were promoted with great difficulty. Some really hustled to get themselves promoted. Some were hurriedly installed just before the change in ruling parties. Some have no intention of clinging to their rice bowls. Some are well qualified for their jobs. If the DPP issues an order demanding a joint resignation, how many of them will fall in line? We will know in just a few days.