The DPP Cheers Chen Chu to Avoid an Internal Debate
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 27, 2009
The final impact of Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland on the Democratic Progressive Party remains to be seen. But hardline Taiwan independence advocate Wang Hsing-nan's suggestion that Chen Chu be awarded the Blue Sky White Sun Medal to fellow hardline Taiwan independence advocate Chen Chu is truly laughable.
During Chen Chu's official visit to Beijing, she uttered the words, "our central government's President Ma Ying-jeou." Theoretically and substantively, it was tantamount to proclaiming to the Beijing authorities that the DPP has revised its definition of Taiwan independence.
When word of her remarks got back to Taipei, the Democratic Progressive Party virtually mobilized the entire party, praising Chen Chu for having the wisdom and courage to "assert our national sovereignty." The DPP deftly shifted the focus away from an issue that deserves deep thought and close consideration.
Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland should have motivated the DPP to conduct a major internal debate on national identity and cross-Strait policy. But now it seems the entire party has reached a quiet understanding. The DPP will put a lid on the entire affair and never mention it again. Even Taiwan independence elements are biting their tongues. Chen Chu's words: "our central government's President Ma Ying-jeou," was a potential source of inner-party turmoil. Even this has been blown up into a major political achievement. This is both pathetic and risible.
Let's take a closer look at Chen Chu's language. The Democratic Progressive Party continues to champion its Taiwan independence Party Platform and its Resolution for a Normal Nation. So why did Chen Chu reaffirm the Republic of China in front of the Beijing authorities? The DPP expressed gratitude and appreciation to Chen Chu for her impromptu statement. But let's look at the logical contradiction behind the DPP's position. Why does the DPP affirm the Republic of China in front of Beijing, but run wild through the streets of Taiwan waving "Nation of Taiwan" flags?
This behavior is typical of the Democratic Progressive Party. It seeks only to achieve an immediate impact. It refuses to confront its self-contradictions. Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland was a major event. Perhaps amidst the DPP's "Ah Q" applause, it lost sight of the larger issue. Perhaps the proposal that Chen Chu be awarded a medal, is merely a means of defusing its embarrassment. Perhaps this is the reason the DPP is reluctant and afraid to debate the issue.
Every time an opportunity arises for a debate, the DPP has demonstrated a remarkable ability to disappear. This is perhaps the reason the DPP has been able to repeatedly squeak by. But it is also the reason the DPP remains trapped and must continue looking for a way out. Therefore every time we see the pragmatist/reformists within the Democratic Progressive Party clash with the fundamentalists, they end up hugging each other moments later. Principles that should have been clarified, are deliberately kept muddy. The party is still being held hostage by a tiny number of radicals.
Over the past two decades, The KMT has undergone several major schisms. Jaw Shaw-kang split and formed the New Party. James Soong split and formed the People First Party. In general, the minority that split represented changing mainstream public opinion. Although the schisms brought down the KMT, they also checked tyrants within the party. Finally, after eight years out of office, the KMT has been rebuilt both in its form and in its values. Schisms within the Democratic Progressive Party, on the other hand, are quite different. Hardline advocates of Taiwan independence and hardline supporters of Chen Shui-bian are few and far between. They consider Chen Shui-bian their spiritual leader, but they lack bona fide leaders such as Jaw Shao-kang and James Soong. All they have is the likes of Koo Kuan-min and Huang Ching-ling. Worse still, they lack the wherewithal to split from the Democratic Progressive Party on their own initiative. The DPP does not dare to disassociate itself from them. They dare not disassociate themselves from the DPP. Therefore the DPP remains incapable of using Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland as a catalyst for internal debate. Taiwan independence elements within the Democratic Progressive Party need only raise high the Nation of Taiwan banner, and the Democratic Progressive Party will be forced to salute. It will forever remain their hostage, forever incapable of driving them out. So why bother to debate?
Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chu took the Taiwan independence elements by surprise. Taiwan independence elements have been badly hurt, yet dare not complain. This truly is a miracle. Chen Chu kept her May 17 Mainland itinerary secret. Tsai Ing-wen ensured that the May 17 protest march ended peacefully. Taiwan independence elements felt they had been played for fools. Yet the leadership of the Democratic Progressive Party remains afraid to debate the issue. Why begin a major debate over a small number of hardline advocates of Taiwan independence and hardline supporters of Chen Shui-bian? The hardline advocates of Taiwan independence do not want to debate the DPP leadership. They merely want to take them hostage. Isn't this the very reason hardline advocates of Taiwan independence and hardline supporters of Chen Shui-bian are still able to hijack the DPP?
Chen Chu affirmed the Republic of China in front of the Beijing authorities. Her gesture must not be seen merely as an impromptu gesture. Rather, it sums up the DPP's dilemma. Unless the DPP resolves its internal contradictions, how can DPP supporters be expected "to grow," as Tsai Ing-wen hopes?
The DPP must conduct a comprehensive review of its position regarding national identity and cross-Strait policy. Only then will it be able to establish a viable program for governing the nation. It must not engage in self-deception by suggesting that Chen Chu be awarded a medal. Instead, it should do some serious soul-searching.
2009.05.27 05:32 am