Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taiwan Must Not Be Dragged Down into the Whirlpool

Taiwan Must Not Be Dragged Down into the Whirlpool
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 15, 2008

Abroad, the global financial maelstrom rages. At home, suspicions of corruption surround the Chen family. Add to this a new administration unable to meet the public's expectations, and it's no surprise Taiwan's political scene is in chaos, and Taiwan's economy is in the doldrums. But leave international factors beyond our control aside for the moment. The public on Taiwan has always displayed both gumption and smarts. Is it truly incapable of working through these problems?

The political and economic situation on Taiwan is hardly what the public expected from the three month old Ma administration. The new administration's performance is far from satisfactory. But other factors also deserve our attention. One. The political atmosphere is permeated with nihilism. The ruling and opposition parties are caught in a never-ending tug of war. Politics is not only unable to solve peoples' problems. It has itself become the problem. Two. Political manipulation has bred public cynicism. People exchange abuse at the drop of a hat. They refuse to understand. They lack empathy. Cynicism breeds more cynicism, This breeds more intense anger and deeper depression. Three. The middle class feels alienated. Voices of reason and moderation cannot make themselves heard. Mutual trust is difficult to establish, making distorted values difficult to correct.

The current political scene reminds us of when the Democratic Progressive Party was not yet in power. A stalemate prevails between the ruling and opposition parties. The majority party lacks direction. The minority party uses violence and refuses to cooperate. Rational policymaking is nowhere to be found. The contaminated dairy products scandal is milked for all it is worth. DPP thugs go so far as to choke Yeh Chin-chuan by the neck. The DPP's only response to cross-Strait policy is "No!" Every day Chen Shui-bian visits the countryside and goad the mob into challenging the legal system. Taiwan now finds itself in a whirlpool, spiraling downward, unable to extricate itself. The residue of eight years of corruption from the Chen Shui-bian regime remains. If Taiwan reverts to the mistakes of the past, then weren't the past eight years of suffering all for nothing?

This downward spiral can only lead to Taiwan's death by suffocation. Compared to eight years ago, Taiwan has fewer economic options, less tolerance for "ethnic," i.e., cultural group, differences, more public discontent, less social cohesion, and less ability to solve political problems. Look in the mirror. Taiwan's image as a democracy is in tatters. Can the public possibly be content with the state of the nation?

Lest we forget, when Chen Shui-bian was elected president eight years ago, his slogan was "We must sink or swim." Not only did he not lead Taiwan into the light, his political corruption and moral degradation dragged Taiwan down along with him into the darkness. Chen Shui-bian has misused his authority to incite discontent among the masses, and intimidate the court system. The DPP may not have the guts to excommunicate A Bian. But are civic-minded individuals willing to countenance democracy and justice being trampled under his boot?

Taiwan's political atmosphere is permeated with nihilism. All the public can see is political calculation. Concern for the public interest is nowhere to be found. The Ma administration has been badly embarrassed. Yet it refuses to reshuffle its cabinet. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party's eight years of misconduct is clear for all to see. Yet it seems to think mocking the Ma administration at every opportunity will somehow prove its own virtue. Does the DPP consider the Ma administration's missteps some sort of moral victory? The Ma administration's open-door policy toward the mainland runs the risk of wishful thinking. But at least it is correct in its basic direction. By contrast, the Democratic Progressive Party's categorical rejection of all contact with the mainland merely betrays its congenital atavism. Does the DPP think eight years of suffering under its Closed Door Policy wasn't enough?

In the long run, the Democratic Progressive Party must break with Chen Shui-bian. But even more importantly, it must rethink its original goals. Besides the pursuit of power, what remains of the DPP's democratic beliefs and moral principles? The progressive image the Democratic Progressive Party projected eight years ago no longer exists. The political appeals they made back then no longer move the electorate. The political momentum they commanded back then, has been reduced to anti-China and anti-Blue slogans. If the DPP is unable to offer anything new, if it merely follows the path of least resistance, who will follow in its footsteps?

Now that democracy has come to this, the public on Taiwan should have a deeper understanding of the nature of politics. The democracy peddled on the street is democracy on the cheap. A legislature incapable of solving problems has no greater claim to wisdom than any random passerby. Every four years, the public casts its vote. They have less chance of ending up with a satisfactory government than they have of winning the lottery. Citizens in the modern world must to be able to distinguish between good and evil, and must not allow politicians to lead them around by the nose. They must challenge themselves and transcend themselves. When the nation and society are in crisis, citizens must know where they stand and where they must go. They must reach out to others, and lend them their support.

The world is in chaos. The public on Taiwan has no cause for self-pity. We must awaken from our eight-year long nightmare. We must away the cold sweat. We must offer each other our support. We must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the whirlpool.

2008.10.15 03:11 am


台 灣當前的政經情勢,距離人民對三月政黨再輪替的期待甚遠;其中,除了新政府的表現不如人意,其實有更深刻的因素值得我們省思。第一,政治虛無主義氣氛瀰 漫,使朝野陷入無休無止的對立和拉扯;政治無法解決眾人的問題,反而成為人們苦惱的根源。第二,在政治操弄下,社會情緒變得憤世嫉俗,動輒譏誚謾罵,拒絕 理解,也缺乏同理心。結果,冷嘲激盪熱諷,徒然製造更多忿懣。第三,社會中間地帶表現得相當疏離,理性、中道的聲音無法浮現,使得社會互信不易建立,也使 傾斜的價值難以匡正。

觀察目前的政治景象,有點像回到當年民進黨執政前的狀態:朝野僵峙,多數黨缺乏方向感,少數黨採取粗暴的杯葛,看不 到就事論事的理性問政。從毒奶事件的反覆不休、葉金川細故遭到勒頸,到民進黨杯葛所有兩岸政策,乃至陳水扁天天下鄉煽惑群眾挑戰司法,可以說台灣儼然處在 一個自我下沉的漩渦中,無法自拔。試想,扁政府的八年積垢未清,台灣政治如果又墜回過去的覆轍,那麼人民這八年的煎熬豈不是全白過了?

稱 這是個「下沉漩渦」,因為它只會把台灣帶向更令人窒息的境地。對照八年前後的變化,台灣的經濟出路更窄,族群的包容彈性更小,民眾不滿一切的情緒更強烈, 社會共識的凝聚更為不易,政治上解決問題能力也更薄弱。攬鏡自照,別說台灣的民主形象已殘破不堪,人民會滿意國家目前的情景嗎?

更別忘 了,八年前陳水扁當選總統,是靠著「向上提升或向下沉淪」的訴求而受到民眾付託;結果,他不僅未把台灣帶向更開闊的境地,反以個人貪腐失德將台灣拖著與之 俱沉。至今,陳水扁還在利用他濫權取得的情資煽惑群眾,恫嚇司法。就算民進黨無力與扁切割,有主見的公民能眼睜睜看著國家顏面和民主正義,皆被他踩在腳下 嗎?

我們之所以認為台灣「政治虛無主義」氣氛瀰漫,主要就是眼見目前的政治只剩下「權謀」的計算,人民的福祉已被他們拋在腦後。馬政府分 明已窘態畢露,卻為了顏面不肯調整內閣職務;民進黨八年執政之失德失能有目共睹,卻以為對馬政府百般譏諷即能反證自己的才德,這是什麼精神勝利法?再說, 馬政府對於大陸的開放政策,確有一廂情願之虞,但方向至少是正確的。反觀民進黨的一味杯葛,除了「逢中必反」的原始本能,難道覺得台灣還沒吃夠鎖國八年的 苦頭?

從長遠看,民進黨要做的其實不只是和阿扁「切割」而已,而是應重新省思自己從政的初衷,除了追求權力,還剩下多少民主信念和道德理 想?比起八年前,民進黨當年擁有的道德形象,如今已經破產;當年標舉的政治號召,如今已泥足難行;當年澎湃的政治動力,如今只剩反中與反藍的躁動。若不能 拿出新的作為,再走無限抗爭的老路,還能吸引誰追隨?

民主走到這個地步,台灣人民也應該對政治的本質有深一層的認識。沿街叫賣的民主,只 是廉價的民主;不能透過論辯解決問題的國會,不會比菜市場的民意高明;而人民只靠著四年一次的投票,「抽中」理想政府的概率比中樂透彩還低。作為一個現代 公民,不僅要能分辨是非黑白,不被政客牽著鼻子走,還要能自我挑戰、自我超越;在國家社會的危機時刻,每一位公民皆應知道自己的位置和方向在哪裡,甚至伸 出手給別人一點支撐的力量。


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