Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mainland Spouses Will Command 3-5% of the Vote

Mainland Spouses Will Command 3-5% of the Vote
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 5, 2009

The Legislative Yuan is amending the "Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area." Mainland spouses' political status, right to work, and right to property will be expanded. If 260,000 Mainland spouses acquire citizenship, they along with their spouses and relatives on Taiwan will become a social group that can no longer be ignored. During national elections they will constitute 3-5 percent of the vote. Given this trend, politicians can no longer discriminate on the basis of political ideology. The public should also toss such demeaning terms as "Mainland sister" into the dustbin.

The amending of Mainland spouses' rights is essential if we wish to respect human rights. It is also essential to cross-Strait interaction. Over the past decade, under the influence of "nativization," society on Taiwan has been slow to accept foreign spouses. The DPP is also strategically "anti-China." Mainland spouses are the most severely discriminated against members among the new wave of immigrants. [Translator's Note: Strictly speaking, Chinese citizens who move from the Mainland to Taiwan are not "immigrants." They are merely Chinese citizens who have changed their residency.] The obstacles in the way of Mainland spouses obtaining work permits, owning property, and acquiring ID cards are greater than for other foreign spouses. Mainland spouses are tantamount to "Third-Class Citizens."

Our government prides itself on its democracy. Yet it classifies and treats people differently according to their identity. This is flagrant discrimination. Unfortunately the Democratic Progressive Party, which boasts that it champions "human rights," is also the mastermind of this discriminatory policy. The amended law will return only a few of the rights Mainland spouses were deprived of previously. Strictly speaking, their status has not really been upgraded. For example, in the past Mainland spouses had to wait eight long years go obtain an identity card. This has now been reduced to six. But it is still not comparable to foreign spouses in general, who need only wait four.

The Democratic Progressive Party contradicts its own rhetoric. It attempts to distort society to justify Taiwan independence. The DPP's supreme value is Taiwan independence. To achieve it, the DPP must violate human rights and oppresses other social and ethnic groups. The DPP's "Us vs. Them" mentality trumps all. This has led to partisan chaos, and worse, injected a deadly toxin into our society.

When the law was being amended, DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying actually said "The streets are swarming with the spawn of Mainlanders. Very scary." Ong Ching-chu said they would deprive "Taiwanese" of job opportunities. In their eyes, even if a Mainland spouse has acquired a Republic of China identity card entirely in accordance with the law, he or she still does not qualify as a "citizen of Taiwan." In Ong Ching-chu's eyes, it makes no difference whether a Mainland spouse is unemployed. But a "Taiwanese" must not be unemployed. In Chiu Yi-ying's eyes, as long as a child's mother is a Mainlander, then that child is "very scary." The fathers of these children may be bona fide Taiwanese, but she still considers them the Spawn of the Enemy.

Over the past year cross-Strait relations have undergone positive changes. But viewed from the context of the past six decades, such a minor shift is merely one step amidst countless advances and retreats. Today when we refer to "Mainland spouses," the "Mainlanders" who arrived on Taiwan in 1949 have apparently become "Taiwanese." And if we turn the clock even further back, weren't Chiu Yi-ying and Ong Ching-chu's male ancestors bachelors "fresh off the boat" from "Tangshan?"

Mainland spouses currently number 260,000. That number will increase. If they obtain full Republic of China citizenship, they will constitute over one percent of the population. They could have a direct impact on elections as high as 3-5 percentage points. If the total turnout is 80%, each percentage point is about 130,000 votes. The voting strength of Mainland spouses and their relatives will be considerable. How can we ignore the existence of such a large demographic? How can we oppress them? From the perspective of elections alone, no political party can afford to ignore these new voters. In fact, three years ago the number of Mainland spouses and foreign spouses exceeded the number of Aborigines. It is now the fourth largest social or ethnic group on Taiwan. Unless we impose a total ban on Mainland spouses, or deny them full political status, they are bound to change the demographics of the island. Those who hope to distort this social reality will lose their chance six to eight years from now.

The Fan Lan-qin incident reflected the anxieties felt by different social and ethnic groups on Taiwan. Actually the most serious social and ethnic problem on Taiwan is not bigoted exchanges about "Tai Ba Zhi" or "High-Class Mainlanders." It is Mainland spouses and foreign spouses who have no political voice.

Attempts to deal with social and ethnic problems on Taiwan have failed. This has led to the bitter divisions in today's society. Today the problem of Mainland spouses and foreign spouses has intensified. We must not backslide. As we amend the law and restore the rights of Mainland and foreign spouses, political parties must realize that society on Taiwan will be different tomorrow, Therefore they must treat these new members of our society in a civilized, equitable, and open manner.

2009.05.04 03:15 am










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