DPP Forcing Tsai Ing-wen to Swear a Blood Oath
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 14, 2010
Tsai Ing-wen's authority within the Democratic Progressive Party is under challenge. The threat to her power may be more serious than outsiders imagine. First, she failed to do as well in the Two Yings Debates as expected. In particular, Deep Green elements found her arguments distasteful. Her authority within the party has been shaken. Secondly, party elders and Taiwan independence fundamentalists are attempting to force her to run for Xinbei City Mayor. The time for a showdown is nigh.
Tsai Ing-wen used the second anniversary of Ma's inauguration to publish an open letter, mainly regarding the Two Yings Debate. This move, plus the numerous TV interviews she held in the wake of the debate, declares that if the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, it will hold a referendum to abolish ECFA. It also declares that the DPP is now fully behind the 5/20 protest march. This move can also be seen as a means of ameliorating her current power crisis.
But the grander her gestures, the more apparent the seriousness of her power crisis. Moreover, her remedial measures merely increase the severity of her crisis. For example, she stridently proclaimed that if the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, it will hold a referendum to abolish ECFA. For Deep Greens, this amounts to an admission that her arguments during the debate were riddled with holes. For Pale Greens and Pale Blues, this may be seen as a disillusioning revelation of her true face. In particular, this belated addendum will severely narrow the options for the DPP and herself, during the 2012 presidential election as well as for the long term. Crisis management like this amounts to adding fuel to the fire.
Tsai Ing-wen has been party chairman for two years. Yet her current power crisis is the result of her party loyalty being called into question. People are asking why she failed to denounce President Ma for "pandering to [mainland] China and selling out Taiwan?" during the debate? Why she failed to call for a referendum? Some are even saying that Tsai Ing-wen belatedly "defected" to the Democratic Progressive Party and lacks "fighting ability." They are saying that if she refuses to run for Xinbei City Mayor, what right does she have to be re-elected party chairman? Given the current atmosphere, forcing Tsai Ing-wen to run for Xinbei City Mayor amounts to pressuring her to swear a blood oath. For party elders and Taiwan independence fundamentalists, this is an issue of loyalty and not an issue of individual preference.
To what extent must Tsai Ing-wen spill her guts to Deep Green elements before she passes muster? She faces a dilemma. On the one hand she must swear a blood oath to mollify Deep Greens. On the other hand, she must not overdo any such blood oath. Otherwise she will disillusion centrist-oriented Pale Green and Pale Blue voters. Most importantly, she must not overdo any blood oath to the extent that people conclude "Tsai Ing-wen is no longer Tsai Ing-wen." Otherwise Tsai Ing-wen's day will be done.
The open letter Tsai Ing-wen published yesterday reveals her dilemma. Consider this section of her letter. "At this stage the government must ensure that exchanges with [mainland] China" must go hand in hand with "clarifications of Taiwan's image as a nation. If the latter is sacrificed to the former, it will surely have devastating consequences for Taiwan's future." This hesitant argument appears to a defense of national sovereignty in exchanges with mainland China. This of course is a public consensus. But Tsai Ing-wen has invented new jargon, "clarifications of Taiwan's image as a nation," that merely come across as mealy-mouthed. What does "clarifications of Taiwan's image as a nation" mean? Is Tsai Ing-wen advocating the use of "Republic of China" in exchanges with the mainland? The DPP was unable to do so when it was in power. All it can do is one-sidedly cling to "One China, Different Interpretations," and allow Beijing to refrain from voicing any objections. Is Tsai Ing-wen advocating the use of "Republic of Taiwan" in exchanges with the mainland? The DPP was unable to do this either when it was in power. Some in the Democratic Progressive Party have even concluded that the Taiwan independence movement is dead, that it was killed off by Chen Shui-bian during his administration. Is Tsai Ing-wen advocating the invocation of the "two states theory" in exchanges with the mainland? Tsai Ing-wen's namby-pamby formulation may come across as inauthentic to the Deep Greens. It may come across as unintelligible to Pale Greens and Pale Blues. If she herself is unable to offer a clarification of what she means, how can she possibly offer a "clarification of Taiwan's image as a nation?"
Let's take a closer look at Tsai Ing-wen's power crisis. Party elders and Taiwan independence fundamentalists may feel that Tsai Ing-wen's "interim mission" is over. Since problems have arisen surrounding her loss in the debate and her candidacy for Xinbei City Mayor, it is time for a showdown. If at this point Tsai Ing-wen fails to convince Deep Green elements of her sincerity, and enter the Xinbei City Mayoral campaign, after-effects can be expected. If she is unable to convince them of her sincerity, and refuses to run for Xinbei City Mayor, they may turn against her. Why is she dragging her feet on running for Xinbei City Mayor they ask. Party elders and Taiwan independence fundamentalists want Tsai Ing-wen to swear a blood oath.
Tsai Ing-wen has been party chairman for two years. Who thought her party loyalty would be called into question? Two years ago, Pale Greens and Pale Blues looked to a miracle -- a "DPP reformed by Tsai Ing-wen." Now alas, the reverse has happened -- "Tsai Ing-wen has found herself mired in the DPP morass."
Tsai Ing-wen's rescue awaits a show of support from reformers within the DPP. It also depends on Tsai Ing-wen's efforts on her own behalf.
2010.05.14 04:13 am