A March Not Rooted in Self-Pity?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 14, 2009
The DPP got its start on the streets. It has no other strengths. All it knows is how to butt heads with the system. To its embarrassment, 20 years after the party was founded, the political situation has changed. Most embarrassing of all, this 20 year period includes eight years of Democratic Progressive Party rule. Yet its eight years in power failed to teach the DPP the importance of obeying the law. The DPP often forgets that when it butts heads with the system, the DPP was at one time the defender of the system.
For politicians to suffer from amnesia is not surprising. For the sake of power, they must change with the political winds. They must always weave some sort of rationale to convince themselves they are always right, and their opponents are always wrong. Unfortunately for them, the public's memory is better than theirs. What they did and what they said, the public remembers. It has been nearly a year since the second change in ruling parties. On the eve of the first anniversary of the Ma/Liu government's inauguration, the Democratic Progressive Party is again taking to the streets. It is organizing a May 17 "Protest Ma, Defend Taiwan March." As the opposition party, opposition to the party in power is perfectly normal. The Democratic Progressive Party has called for full public mobilization. It has set quotas for the marchers, and quotas for the tour buses, lest the public forget the Democratic Progressive Party aptitude at "remaking the world."
This is the first street demonstration launched by the DPP since it lost power. The Democratic Progressive Party has also produced two promotional videos. The first asks people whether they had enough to eat? It mocks the Ma administration for the past year's economic recession. Unfortunately for the DPP, the stock market refused to cooperate. It rose eight days in a row. The second video features former DPP Chairman Huang Hsing-chieh. He called for the masses to summon their past enthusiasm. Twenty years ago he strenuously protested the "ten thousand year parliament." He won support for direct presidential elections. But people were unmoved. Without these two films, people might not have been so strongly reminded of how far the DPP degenerated once it tasted power. It might not have felt such anguish over the eight years Taiwan lost as a result of Democratic Progressive Party misrule.
The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. It trumpeted its defense of "Taiwan's sovereignty." Meanwhile, the ROC found itself in dire diplomatic straits. Cross-Strait relations became increasingly tense. We were unable to join the WHO. We even became known in the international community as a troublemaker. The DPP government built "international airports" in cities and counties all over the island. These airports soon resembled ghost towns. The DPP's talk of doubling tourism became an empty boast. Its "Two Trillion, Twin Stars" plan was a day late and a dollar short. In the end it was only the Ma administration's mainland policy that brought Taiwan and foreign capital back to the island, and Mainland tourists to Taiwan to boost spending. The Democratic Progressive Party is castigating the Ma administration for "selling out Taiwan" even as the ROC is preparing to attend the WHA as an observer.
The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. It shouted empty "wage war on behalf of the economy" slogans for eight years. In the end the only war it waged was on behalf of its own ideology. Now that it is again out of power, the Democratic Progressive Party has reverted to peddling its false idol of Taiwan independence. It is attempting to delude the public on Taiwan. DPP officials denounce the Ma administration for recognizing Mainland academic credentials, even as their own spouses work toward degrees at Mainland universities. DPP officials obstruct the opening of cross-strait economic and trade, even as its own officials conduct business on the Mainland. DPP officials shout themselves hoarse denouncing the Parade and Assembly Law as a relic of the martial law era. Meanwhile they forget that they were in power for eight years, during which they made not the slightest move to amend this unconstitutional law. DPP officials accuse the Ma administration of turning the clock back on democracy. Meanwhile have they ever reflected upon their own eight years in office? What if anything did they do for democracy? Twenty years after Taiwan's political liberalization, all they can do is spout the same old political platitudes, and play the same old political games.
For an opposition party to engage in confrontation is perfectly natural. But it must offer convincing reasons for its opposition. If it cannot offer hard data to prove its case, at least it should offer a reasoned argument. What is the DPP's argument? DPP officials have declared they will take to the streets. They may even even stay overnight. They boast that they are even "willing to be arrested and jailed." In order to avoid conflicts, the Taipei City Government has urged the KMT to withdraw its application for a similar permit on May 18. It is allowing the DPP to protest. But the DPP is utterly unappreciative. It is unwilling to abide by existing legal norms. it forgets that when the Red Shirt Army took to the streets to protest Chen Shui-bian and his family's corruption, the DPP invoked the very same law they oppose to prevent the Red Shirt Army from passing through cities and counties ruled by the Democratic Progressive Party.
The primary battlefield in a democracy is in the halls of parliament. Yet the DPP had the temerity to barricade itself inside the Legislature, preventing the Legislature from conducting business. Its primary motive in taking to the streets is to provoke violent conflict. When the Democratic Progressive Party was in power it sanctimoniously demanded that opposition parties behave as the "loyal opposition." But the Pan Blue opposition parties never barricaded themselves inside the Legislature by attaching locks to the doors of the Legislature. They never led the masses onto the streets for the express purpose of provoking violent clashes. Now that the DPP is in the opposition, it refuses to behave as a loyal opposition party. But the least it can do is behave as a responsible opposition party. If it has the ability to lead the masses onto the streets, it has the responsibilty to ensure that they safely return home. It should at least be able to find its own way home.
The ROC has undergone two ruling party changes. Its political system is not in danger of collapsing, dire warnings by the Democratic Progressive Party to the contrary notwithstanding. Instead, it is the Democratic Progressive Party that faces a crisis. The Democratic Progressive Party is doing nothing for the public on Taiwan. It is doing nothing for social progress. At least it should do something for itself. It should hold a peaceful demonstration. it should refrain from mawkish appeals to self-pity. It should ensure that incidents of violence do not leave an indelible stamp on the DPP's forehead reading, "The Party of Violence."