Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time for the DPP to Confront the Post-Chen Era

Time for the DPP to Confront the Post-Chen Era
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 11, 2008

Given the current atmosphere within the Green Camp, Frank Hsieh's call for Chen Shui-bian to "quietly await the court's verdict, thereby reaffirming the credibility of the justice system," took more than a little courage. Hsieh even added for good measure that "the Democratic Progressive Party needs more preparation, and ought to give Mr. Ma a little more time." To tell the truth, Frank Hsieh's declaration collided head on with Green Camp Political Correctness. But isn't this exactly what the Democratic Progressive Party needs to hear?

Dealing with the Chen family's corruption scandals has been one of the Democratic Progressive Party's most difficult challenges. Leave factional disputes aside. On the one hand, the DPP has been in power for eight years. What prominent DPP figure has not been Chen's beneficiary? In terms of either emotions or self-interest, it is understandably difficult to them to disown Chen. On the other hand, the truth of the Chen family corruption scandal is become clearer and clearer. Excuses for the Chen family's behavior are becoming flimsier and flimsier. For the moment the DPP is using civil rights and due process issues to shift attention from Chen family and DPP corruption. But once prosecutors indict Chen and the sordid details come to light, the DPP's image will once again be hurt, perhaps mortally. Frank Hsieh's declaration essentially confronted this problem in advance.

Frank Hsieh's declaration is bound to touch a sensitive nerve for Chen supporters within the Democratic Progressive Party. Ever since prosecutors took Chen Shui-bian into custody, Chen has done everything but "quietly await the verdict." We can safely predict that once he is indicted and released on bail, he will incite a series of public incidents and allege "political persecution." Chen Shui-bian will undoubtedly seek a direct confrontation with Ma Ying-jeou. Can one honestly expect an individual who resorts to such methods to heed calls to "give Mr. Ma a little more time?"

Following Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan a number of Green Camp figures were taken into custody. Taking a hawkish position within the Green Camp is easy. There is a ready market for it. By contrast, taking a conciliatory position at the moment is difficult. It may even provoke mob outrage. Individuals within the Green Camp who have adopted the latter position in the past have at worst been ostracized, and at best marginalized. Put more plainly, Frank Hsieh's declaration puts his leadership position in the Green Camp at risk. The situation has already deteriorated to where it is today. Does the Green Camp intend to suppress dissent forever? Chen Shui-bian and Frank Hsieh belong to the same generation. They are also long-term rivals. This may be why Hsieh still has the right to voice an opinion. Allowing such voices to speak will surely help the Democratic Progressive Party escape its current dilemma.

This may be the most painful choice the Democratic Progressive must make as it moves toward a post-Chen era. One alternative is to courageously bid farewell to Chen Shui-bian, leaving behind the political struggles of the past, quietly awaiting the court's verdict, and altering the entire party's strategy and tactics as a party in the political opposition. Given Tsai Ing-wen's abilities as chairperson, this is feasible. Another alternative is to continue politicizing the Chen family corruption scandal, and with every twist and turn in the scandal, escalate political mobilization, escalate Blue/Green confrontation, allowing Chen Shui-bian to determine the DPP's future. Of these two positions, one is backward-looking, the other is forward-looking. So far, DPP members who have adopted the first position and champion it openly remain a minority. Frank Hsieh has undoubtedly made a number of political calculations. Pundits have argued that his radio show is laying the groundwork for a comeback. But in the end it is merely Frank Hsieh's choice. The Green Camp, from top to bottom, can no longer ignore the problem. After all, the DPP must not allow its fate to be tied to the outcome of the Chen family corruption case. When all is said and done, all the DPP can do is await the court's verdict in the Chen family corruption case. Does it have any alternative?

The world faces an unprecedented depression. Every nation on earth has sounded financial and economic alarms. The government and public on Taiwan remain in a heightened state of tension. Officials worry about when the economy will recover. People worry about losing their jobs. A consumer voucher proposal provoked a firestorm, clearly showing where society's attention is focused. With elections looming, is it really wise for an opposition party to link itself to a corruption scandal?

Frank Hsieh said "We should give Mr. Ma a little more time." Some Green Camp figures may find his remarks hard to swallow. But this is the first year following a change in ruling parties. The real battle is a long way off. The first half of Frank Hsieh's declaration is perhaps even more important than the second half. Hsieh was right. The Democratic Progressive Party needs more preparation. Giving President Ma a little more time also gives the DPP much needed time.

中國時報  2008.12.11

在 目前綠營的主流氛圍中,謝長廷選擇公開呼籲陳水扁「靜待法律審判,樹立司法公信力」的發言,還真需要很大的道德勇氣!他甚至還說「民進黨需要準備,也要給 馬先生一點時間」。講實在話,謝長廷的這些發言,幾乎衝撞了綠營當下所有的「政治正確」,但持平地說,民進黨此刻所最缺少的,不就是這種聲音嗎?

可 以理解,究竟「該怎麼處理扁家弊案?」一直是民進黨內最難解的習題。拋開派系糾葛不論,一方面經歷了八年的執政,民進黨現今檯面人物,有誰沒受過扁的提攜 與照顧?這是不管就情感論或是就利益論,都是很難清楚切割的;另一方面,隨著扁案內幕真相逐漸明朗,能夠替扁案解套的空間也愈來愈小,目前還可以藉司法人 權或是程序正義的議題轉移焦點,惟一旦等到檢方正式起訴,所有涉案細節完整披露,可預見民進黨的形象將再次被拖累,甚至重創。謝長廷的表態,等於是提前將 這個難題端上檯面。

可想而知,謝長廷這個立場,勢必會觸動民進黨內挺扁人士的敏感神經。從陳水扁被檢方羈押前的所有 政治操作,可以很清楚地看出陳水扁從頭到尾都不可能「靜待法律審判」,甚至我們可以預期,待起訴確定扁獲交保後,隨著審判的進程,一連串以「政治迫害」為 名的群眾動員勢必立即竄起,屆時陳水扁肯定將戰線拉高到直接與馬對決的態勢,這種操作模式,怎麼可能會接受「給馬先生一點時間」的論述?

經 歷過陳雲林訪台事件,乃至一連串綠營人士遭羈押的不愉快經驗,此刻綠營內部採取鷹派立場是容易的,也是有市場的;相對採取持平、和解的立場是困難的,甚至 是會犯眾怒的。過去選擇後一立場的綠營人士,即便沒被批鬥,也難免被邊緣化。講再白一點,謝長廷說這些話,對他自己在綠營內部的領導位置,其實是有風險 的。問題是,情勢走到今天這個地步,綠營內部難道要永遠壓抑這種聲音嗎?謝長廷與陳水扁隸屬同一世代,長期又處於競爭狀態,這或許是他還享有這種發言位置 的原因,而讓這種聲音健康地發出來,對民進黨走出困境絕對是正面的。

不諱言說,這或許是民進黨邁向後扁時代所遭逢最 痛苦的一次抉擇。一種抉擇是勇敢地向扁案告別,擺脫過往的所有政治糾纏,靜待司法程序走完,同時將整個黨的戰略步伐,調整到政策的在野制衡,以蔡英文主席 的能耐,這個格局是打得開的;另一種選擇就是將情境停格在扁案的政治糾葛裡,隨著扁案的司法進程,不斷擴大政治動員,升高藍綠對立,讓陳水扁持續引領民進 黨未來的走向。這兩立場一個是向後看的,另一個即是向前看的。而截至目前,在民進黨內採取第一種立場並公開加以倡議的,依舊還是少數。謝長廷或有屬於他的 政治算計(已有論者評論他做廣播節目是準備拔劍再起),但這個選擇終究不該只是謝長廷的選擇,綠營上下也真的不能再迴避了。畢竟民進黨未來命運終究不能跟 扁案未來的命運綁在一起吧,扁案走到最後還是只有靜待司法解決一條路,難道還會有更好的政治解決途徑?

值此全球陷入 空前的蕭條之際,每個國家的財經情勢都在拉緊報,台灣更是從政府到民間全面繃緊神經在因應,官員憂心景氣何時能回春,民眾則擔心自己是否會失業,一個消費 券都能創造出那麼多的話題,可見得民間社會關注的焦點在那裡。而一個在野黨選在此時與一個弊案掛在一起,會是一個有智慧的選擇嗎?

謝 長廷說「應該給馬先生一點時間」,或許讓若干綠營人士聽來有些刺耳,但這確實也才是政黨輪替後的第一年,距離真正決戰的時刻還有一段時日呢,所以謝長廷前 面一句話或許更重要:「民進黨需要準備」,這句話其實沒說錯,給馬總統一點時間,也是在給民進黨自己多一點準備的時間!

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