Taiwan 2008: From the Second Change in Ruling Parties to the Indictment of Chen Shui-bian
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 30, 2008
In 2008 the political scene on Taiwan underwent a dramatic change. At the beginning of 2008, the island underwent a second change in ruling parties. By the end of 2008, on December 12, Chen Shui-bian had been indicted for corruption and money-laundering. In 2008 cross-Strait relations also underwent a dramatic change. At the beginning of 2008, agitation for a "Join the UN Plebiscite." At the end of 2008, implementation of direct links.
These two threads: internal political struggle and cross-Strait relations affect each other. This article will address the first thread, internal political struggle. Cross-Strait relations will be addressed in a separate article.
The second change in ruling parties has totally replaced the nation's value system. With regards internal political struggles, Ma Ying-jeou's vision of our nation's future has replaced Chen Shui-bian's. Ma has adopted a no to reunification, no to Taiwan independence, no to nation-building, and no to war position. Ma has chosen to uphold the constitution, implement the constitution, amend the constitution, and to reject the "rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution." With regards cross-Strait relations, Ma champions direct links and rejects confrontation. Ma champions ethnic harmony and rejects social divisiveness. Ma champions clean government and rejects corruption. Ma has rejected officials such as Tu Cheng-sheng, Chuang Kuo-jung, and Ye Sheng-mao. We can now look forward to the emergence of a new kind of public official.
Therefore this is not your ordinary, run of the mill, "second change in ruling parties." The nation's entire value system has been completely replaced. Of the 113 seats in the Legislature, the KMT won 82, over two-thirds. The Blue Camp won 86, over three-quarters. During the presidential election Ma Ying-jeou received over 58 percent of the vote, 7.65 million ballots. These results show that the nation's value system has been replaced, in toto. The Democratic Progressive Party, held hostage by Chen Shui-bian, was defeated in the legislative elections and the presidential election. It was defeated because voters punished it for its pro independence stance and rampant corruption. December 12th's indictment represents Chen Shui-bian being brought to justice for his crimes.
In fact, 2008 represents voters making a decisive, across the board choice about their future. The lifting of martial law was followed by two decades of political and economic turmoil. By promoting "nativist values," Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian unquestionably cultivated a "Taiwan-centric" mentality. Lee Teng-hui established a precedent for Taiwan independence. Chen Shui-bian raised the ante. Together, they tore society apart, closed the nation's doors, precipated political chaos, and deeply wounded the nation and society. Lee's black gold and Chen's unbridled greed, corrupted the body politic. As we have said before, Lee and Chen may have led Taiwan across a river, but they landed on the wrong shore. In 2008, voters attempted to heal the wounds caused by Lee and Chen's two decades of misrule. They are hoping for national rebirth and national reconstruction, and see the day Chen was indicted as a day of national rebirth and national reconstruction.
But shifting winds have taken everyone by surprise. The legislative elections and presidential election at the beginning of the year were political sanctions. The voters used the electoral system to punish Chen Shui-bian and the DPP. Chen's indictment at the end of the year, was the justice system's verdict against Chen Shui-bian's corruption. Alas, the electoral process has failed to clear the air, and the legal process has failed to distinguish right from wrong. Chen Shui-bian refuses to confess his crimes. He screams he is a "victim of political persecution." His supporters insist "Chen Shui-bian is innocent." The "reasoning" behind this equation is "If Chen Shui-bian falls, Taiwan falls!"
Meanwhile, the two elections at the beginning of the year produced two new leaders, Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen. So far both have failed to meet the expecations their supporters had for them. Ma Ying-jeou still can't decide how to position himself. Does he want to stand on the front line, or hide out in the rear echelon? Does he want to be both president and party chairman, or does he feel the two roles should be filled by two different people? Does he want to remain an idol to his fans, or does he want to get his hands dirty in the political mud? He seems forever paralyzed by his own media image. When it comes to real world leadership, he often finds himself at a complete loss. As for Tsai Ing-wen, she attempted to initiate a "post-Chen Shui-bian era," only to find herself marginalized by the Green Camp and the DPP. Her hopes of transforming the Democratic Progressive Party have been dashed.
The year 2008 was an historic opportunity for reflection about the ROC's democracy. This golden opportunity is in danger of being frittered away. Ma Ying-jeou is unable to inspire the nation. Tsai Ing-wen is unable to change the DPP. The entire island remains caught in the maze of the Chen corruption case. A minority of Chen Shui-bian supporters have paralyzed the island, and are choking the life out of her.
Faced with such a situation, the public can not help wondering. What, if anything, can save democracy and constitutional government? America's has elected a black man president. India on the other hand, has been unable to change its caste system. Both are democracies. So why are the results so different?
Can the second change in ruling parties in 2008 save the ROC's democracy and constitutional government? Can the prosecution of the Chen corruption case save the ROC's democracy and constitutional government? And if not, what can?
2008.12.30 02:53 am
這 番「二次政黨輪替」，可謂是國家整體價值體系的全面取捨。就人物風格言，取馬英九，捨陳水扁；就國家路線言，取不統、不獨、不武，捨台獨建國；就憲政架構 言，取護憲、行憲、修憲，捨正名制憲；就兩岸關係言，取大三通，捨尖銳對立；就社會號召言，取族群融合，捨撕裂社會；就政風品操言，取清廉，捨貪腐。甚至 就官員品類言，亦是對杜正勝、莊國榮、葉盛茂之輩的否決，而期待新典型出現……。
因而，這不是一般的「二次政黨輪替」，而是國家整體價值 體系的大取捨、大換置，與大抉擇。一一三席立委選舉，國民黨贏得八十二席，逾三分之二；泛藍得八十六席，逾四分之三。總統選舉，馬英九得票率為五十八%， 得票數七六五萬。這些皆顯示選民對國家價值體系的大取捨、大換置與大抉擇。至於被陳水扁所挾持的民進黨，在立委選舉及總統大選皆遭大敗，正是因其台獨路線 及貪腐行徑受到選民的制裁；直至一二一二大起訴，則是將陳水扁的罪行交付司法審判。
其實，二○○八年的台灣，形同選民對解嚴後二十年來的 政經激盪，作出了總結性的反省與抉擇。李登輝與陳水扁，對於本土意識的鼓吹，確曾充實並鞏固了台灣的主體性；但由李登輝始作俑、再經陳水扁變本加厲的台獨 路線，撕裂社會、鎖國亂政，卻使國家社會創巨痛深。尤其，李的黑金，與扁的貪腐，更使政治體質沉淪敗壞。我們曾說，李陳二人也許帶領台灣過了河，卻上錯了 岸；選民遂在二○○八年為二十年來的扁李路線療傷止痛，並期待國家社會得以新生再造。尤其，在原本的想像與期待中，扁案起訴之時，即應是國家社會新生再造 之日。
但是，情勢的演變卻出乎想像與期待之外。年初的立委選舉及總統大選，可謂是選舉制度及選民對陳水扁與民進黨的政治制裁；年底的大起 訴，則是司法體制將對陳水扁的貪腐進行審判。但是，如今顯現的情勢卻是，選舉投票不能激濁揚清，司法似也不能澄明是非；陳水扁仍不認錯，四處呼號「政治迫 害」，而其支持者仍然主張「阿扁無罪」。這一股勢力的主軸論述是：「阿扁若倒，台灣就倒！」
相對而言，年初兩次大選後出現的兩位新領袖， 馬英九與蔡英文，卻迄今未能在各自的領域中，發揮其自我期許與受社會付託的角色與功能。馬英九迄今仍在「第一線／第二線」、「黨政同步／黨政分離」、「粉 絲偶像／戰場領袖」之間不知如何自我定位；似乎始終沉浸在他自成一格的思維與論述中，卻在實際的領導統御上往往不得要領，搔不著癢處。至於蔡英文，亦從朝 向「沒有陳水扁的時代」的道路中，被綠營與民進黨邊緣化及無意義化，民進黨的轉型再造亦已落空。