Will the DPP Listen to the "Atypical" Tsai Ing-wen?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 7, 2008
Summary: Tsai Ing-wen has proposed "an end to poor-mouthing, and the beginning of constructive criticism." One cannot help being impressed. She said that in the face of the current political and economic quagmire, the DPP "ought to blunt its somewhat sharp criticism, and exercise greater restraint." She said "If the KMT's policies are correct, they should be encouraged. If they are bad, they should be subjected to rational criticism. We must immediately adjust our behavior." She said the people must feel that the DPP wants to help the government survive its financial difficulties. The DPP must demonstrate its willingness to weather the storm alongside the people. No opposition party chairperson has ever said anything like this. The DPP has never said any such thing like this. Nor has the KMT. That Tsai Ing-wen would make such an extraordinary proposal, suggests that she may have a unique way of thinking, and also that she may have a firm grasp of political reality.
Full Text below:
Tsai Ing-wen has proposed "an end to poor-mouthing, and the beginning of constructive criticism." One cannot help being impressed. She said that in the face of the current political and economic quagmire, the DPP "ought to blunt its somewhat sharp criticism, and exercise greater restraint." She said "If the KMT's policies are correct, they should be encouraged. If they are bad, they should be subjected to rational criticism. We must immediately adjust our behavior." She said the people must feel that the DPP wants to help the government survive its financial difficulties. The DPP must demonstrate its willingness to weather the storm alongside the people.
No opposition party chairperson has ever said anything like this. The DPP has never said any such thing like this. Nor has the KMT. That Tsai Ing-wen would make such an extraordinary proposal, suggests that she may have a unique way of thinking, and also that she may have a firm grasp of political reality.
Since May 20, the Ma administration's approval rating has been in decline. The DPP's approval rating however, has not increased. Several opinion polls have noted that despite the prevailing political and economic circumstances, most people still believe the KMT is better than the DPP. Such polls reveal a state of gridlock following the second change in ruling parties.
On March 22, Ma Ying-jeou was elected president. At the time, a United Daily News Editorial noted that this was a "victory with a question mark." The editorial cited the widely held conviction that "If the DPP doesn't step down, Taiwan is done for. But whether the KMT can save Taiwan remains a question mark." Today, this "victory with a giant question mark" hangs high above Taiwan, like the Sword of Damocles. But the situation is even more serious than previously imagined. Polls show that despite public dissatisfaction with the KMT, they still do not trust the DPP.
The DPP wielded power for eight years. It ripped the country into a thousand pieces. It brought the economy to its knees. Predictably, as soon as the DPP lost the election and became the opposition party, it immediately reverted to form. It immediately proclaimed itself a champion of justice. It blamed the Ma administration, which had just assumed office, for every sin under the sun, and skinned it alive. One example will suffice. Recalling the ROC Coast Guard vessel from Diaoyutai was a black box operation left over from the DPP regime's "Japanese Affairs Council." The DPP criticized the KMT government for being "too soft." But when it recalled Koh Se-kai, then ordered Coast Guard vessels to circumnavigate the island, the DPP criticized the government for being "too hard." In almost every case, the DPP found fault with the new administration. The KMT was damned if it did, and damned if it didn't. In the past we had "anti-communist thought." Now it seems we have "opposition party thought." This "opposition party thought" however, requires no thinking. All it requires is relentless bad-mouthing. All it requires is relentless negativity.
This is why even though the KMT's approval rating has fallen, the DPP's approval rating has not risen. Tsai Ing-wen probably knows that if matters continue as they have, the KMT may have not have an easy time of it, but the DPP will not benefit from the KMT's troubles. Hence, another school of thought has arisen, one that has its own handle on political reality.
President Ma and the KMT must bear a certain amount of responsibility for dropping the ball. But the main reason we are in our current mess is: 1. The DPP created this political and economic mess, and left it for its successor. 2. The global economic situation has deteriorated dramatically. As Chairman of the opposition political party, Tsai Ing-wen noted that "external factors, including international oil and raw material price increases are among the factors responsible for the current instability." She added that "the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, having been in office, "feels the pain" of the current administration. These words were compelling. They had finesse, transcended "opposition party thought," and left people nearly incredulous.
The current political and economic predicament constitutes a grave national crisis. The ruling Kuomintang must be cautious and guarded. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party, as Tsai Ing-wen noted, must eschew Schadenfreude. It must not make matters be worse. It must not pour gasoline on the fire. It must not demagogue a national disaster for partisan advantage. Because if the opposition DPP attempts to make political hay out of our political and economic crisis, the ruling party won't be the only one that is embarrassed. The entire nation could collapse. Tsai Ing-wen has issued a timely call to "end the bad-mouthing and refrain from gloating." On the one hand, she is well aware of the severe crisis facing the nation. On the other hand, she hopes the DPP will heed the warning. She hopes it will not destroy itself and the nation by indulging in Schadenfreude and rubbing salt in the nation's wounds.
Was Tsai Ing-wen's proposal a passing whim, or a heartfelt conviction? Did she promise too much, too soon? Can Tsai Ing-wen lead the DPP out of its "opposition party thought?" Can the DPP really do what Tsai Ing-wen urges, and "help the Government survive its financial crisis?"
Lin Cho-shui called Tsai Ing-wen "atypical." Did Tsai Ing-wen's remarks overestimate her own influence? Did they misjudge the DPP's potential? Did they underestimate the DPP's destiny?
2008.07.07 03:55 am