Monday, October 27, 2008

Talk to the Public from the Heart

Talk to the Public from the Heart
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 27, 2008

History may or may not remember this day. But President Ma's response to the October 25 protest march should not be to "listen humbly with an open mind." His response should be to accurately assess the protest's significance. He must ask himself why a political party that was on the ropes only half a year ago, could gather so much momentum in so little time? Was it merely economic factors? To put it another way, did purely economic factors motivate so many Green Camp supporters to take to the streets?

On the eve of the October 10 protest march, President Ma reiterated his cross-Strait policy. His tone betrayed his unease. "We have done nothing but implement policies promoted by the Mainland Affairs Council during Tsai Ing-wen's term of office. So why are we being accused of surrendering to Beijing?" "Why is it a sin for me to do what the DPP approved of?" This is the most interesting part of it all. The very doubts and dissatisfactions President Ma expressed contain the answers to his questions. Sorry, but what Tsai Ing-wen may do, Ma Ying-jeou may not. One might say this amounts to a double standard. But amidst Taiwan's Blue vs. Green disputes over the years, what issue hasn't been subject to a double standard? Tsai Ing-wen can get away with practicing double standards because she represents an opposition party. President Ma, on the other hand, cannot accuse Tsai of practicing double standards, wipe his hands, and walk away. If Tsai chooses to rail against Ma, there is nothing Ma can do.

When summing up one's situation, one must never indulge in wishful thinking. The Democratic Progressive Party failed to realize that the assault against Zhang Mingqing, left unchecked, might get out of hand. The assault gathered momentum, and led to the October 25 protest march. The progression seemed perfectly natural. An embezzler was transformed into a hero. A thug was also transformed into a hero. Given the atmosphere that has been created, can we really expect the DPP to be civil toward Chen Yunlin when he arrives for his visit? Some commentators may be confused about the Green Camp's political maneuveurs. Aren't they afraid of being hijacked by Ah-bian? Aren't they afraid of being branded a "party of violence?" These are foolish questions. The DPP was born in violence, and lives for confronations. If it fails to rally the troops during Chen Yunlin's visit, what would happen of the party's morale?

President Ma need not await Chairman Tsai Ing-wen's reasoned response. Even assuming she wanted to, the party would not allow her to engage in rational debate with him. Tsai's offer of a debate is mere posturing. It is tantamount to a refusal to engage in dialogue. President Ma's highest priority should not be to debate Tsai Ing-wen, but to dialogue with the public on Taiwan. President Ma is proabably unaware that this is why lost public approval.

Everyone knows how diligently the Ma administration has been promoting cross-strait reconciliation since it took office on May 20. What the Democratic Progressive Party couldn't do in eight years, the Ma administration did in three months. Over the past eight years, the two sides have remained deadlocked, with swords drawn and arrows nocked. Under the Ma administration the people are finally out from under the Sword of Damocles. This ought to be considered one of the Ma administration's major triumphs. . Why has Ma allowed the Green Camp to condemn it as a "major crime?" This is the Ma administration's biggest blind spot. It has expended enormous energy and effort promoting cross-Strait dialogue. But it has neglected to dialogue with the public on Taiwan. This has allowed the Green Camp to take advantage of its oversight.

The Ma administration has long under-estimated the extent to which public opinion on Taiwan has changed. In the wake of Lee Teng-hui's "two states theory" and eight years of Chen Shui-bian's "one country, each side" "cross-Strait relations" no longer exist, only "cross-Strait issues." The term "cross-Strait" has been reduced to a means of mobilizing voters. After the Green Camp's eight years in power, not only has the public's state of mind changed, . so has its tastes. The Ma administration has been in office only a few months. Turning the clock back eight years overnight is easier said than done. The past eight years have destroyed cross-Strait relations. Cross-Strait relations is not the only thing that needs to be rehabilitated on Taiwan So does our society's conscience. The two are linked. If one pays attention to only one, and ignores the other, one will naturally be accused of "tilting toward China." To relax cross-Strait relations, but fail to deal with cross-Strait resentments, will inevitably lead to the scenario of October 25.

Cross-Strait relations have been trampled underfoot for eight years. Reconstruction cannot be rushed. The Democratic Progressive Party has already created an intense "anti-China sentiment." How can one possibly change it overnight? Over the past several years, the Beijing authorities have denied the Republic of China diplomatic breathing room and the opportunity to participate in international activities. The memory of the contaminated milk scandal is still fresh in the public's mind. This can only reinforce the negative image the public has of the Mainland authorities. Much of the problem is psychological and emotional. The Ma administration needs to realize how little effort it has put into psychological rehabilitation. President Ma has used legal terminology from law books to explain his cross-Strait policy. He probably doesn't realize he is further alienating himself from the public.

Fortunately, it is not too late. The solutions to many of Taiwan's recalcitrant problems, are not intellectual, but emotional. If President Ma fails to get a phone call from Tsai Ing-wen, it doesn't matter. What matters is that he continue to communicate with the public, from the heart.

中國時報  2008.10.27

不論歷史會不會記住這一天,對於一○二五,馬總統此刻的功課,絕不該只是虛心傾聽,而是要正確解讀。他必須得思考:為什麼一個在半年前幾乎被打到趴的政 黨,還能在此刻營造出這樣的聲勢?僅僅只是基於大環境的經濟因素嗎?換個方式問或許更有意思:純粹經濟的因素,能動員那麼多綠營支持者上街嗎?

選在一○二五的前一天,馬總統再度透過訪談闡明了他的兩岸政策,他的語氣很清楚透露了不平:「為什麼蔡英文在陸委會任內所推動的政策,現在做到了,就被民 進黨罵是投降?」「為什麼民進黨當初認同的東西,現在會變成我的罪惡?」有趣的正是在這裡,馬總統的疑惑與不平,答案其實就隱藏在他的問題裡:很抱歉,蔡 英文可以的,馬英九就是不行!你可以說,這簡直是「雙重標準」,問題是台灣這幾年的藍綠糾葛,有什麼事不是「雙重標準」?重點或許是:蔡英文可以理直氣壯 地「雙重標準」,因為她代表是在野黨。馬總統卻不能拋一句「雙重標準」就兩手一攤,自認該做都做了,你要嗆我,我也沒辦法!

對情勢的研判,永遠不能一廂情願。張銘清先前被推打的效應,不僅沒有讓民進黨自覺情勢恐有失控,反而因為一○二五動員聲勢的激勵,讓一切都顯得理所當 然,A錢的變成是英雄,打人的也變成是英雄,當這種氛圍一旦形成,他們對即將到訪的陳雲林怎麼會客氣?有論者或許困惑綠營這樣操作,難道不怕被扁綁架,或 是被扣上「暴力黨」的帽子,這其實是個蠢問題,一個原本就靠抗爭起家的政黨,再不藉陳雲林來訪凝聚士氣,說不定整個黨的氣勢都散了。


從五二○就任以來,誰都看得出來,馬政府在推動兩岸和解上所付出的心力,許多在民進黨執政八年所做不到的事,馬政府在三兩個月就達成了。一個在過去八年幾 近乎劍拔弩張的情勢,在馬政府的積極調整下終於獲得疏緩,照說該是馬政府上任後的重大政績才對,怎麼卻被綠營形容得彷彿是「重大罪狀」般?這正是馬政府迄 今為止在推動兩岸政策上最大的盲點:花了十成十的智慧心力去推動兩岸的對話,卻吝惜與國內民眾對話,這個怠惰所留下的空隙,終於讓綠營找到了缺口,抓到時 機趁勢而起。

馬政府一直低估的是,經歷過李登輝後期的「兩國論」,再經過陳水扁八年的「一邊一國」,台灣社會的民意氛圍已經變了。過去十數年的歲月,嚴格的說並沒有 「兩岸關係」,只有「兩岸議題」。「兩岸」是被用來提供選舉動員的消費品,特別是經過綠營執政八年的悉心打造,甭說心態,連口味都變重了,馬政府才執政幾 個月,就想「一夕回到八年前」,談何容易?要知道,台灣需要重建的,不只是過去八年被摧毀的兩岸關係,還有過去八年被扭曲的社會心靈,這兩者間是連動的, 只顧一端,輕忽另一端,當然會被批「向中國傾斜」;只致力鬆綁兩岸關係,卻疏於緩解被撕裂的「兩岸情結」,結局就是我們在一○二五所看到的景象。

嘗試想想:一個已經被糟蹋八年多的兩岸關係,重建的步伐能夠躁進嗎?一個已經被民進黨強勢營造的「反中情結」,能在旦夕間就煙消雲散嗎?更何況,過去幾年 北京當局對台灣外交空間的打壓,對台灣國際參與的不留餘地,台灣民間迄今依舊是記憶鮮活,毒奶事件只是將這種意象更加強化而已。這中間所涉及的,有很大一 部分是心理的、情緒的層面。馬政府何不想想,在這方面的心理重建工程上,究竟下了多少工夫?在馬總統搬出法律用語的文書語言解釋他的兩岸政策時,他恐怕真 沒想到,他與民眾的距離,反而是愈來愈遠了。


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