Friday, June 18, 2010

Su Tseng-chang's "Early Green" Loses to Lee Teng-hui's "Late Green"

Su Tseng-chang's "Early Green" Loses to Lee Teng-hui's "Late Green"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 18, 2010

Su Tseng-chang has yet to take a stand against ECFA. Some Taiwan independence advocates are saying, "If any of the five mayoral candidates fails to express opposition to ECFA, we will not support him."
One of the characteristics of Green Camp politicians is endless flip-flopping regarding their political path. For example, yesterday's "Five Noes" has become today's "one country on each side." Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang's flip-flopping on ECFA is even more flagrant than Lee Teng-hui's. Endless flip-flopping is not merely a characteristic of Green Camp politicians. It is also the main reason the Green Camp political path is unlikely to become the nation's political path.

Compare Lee Teng-hui, Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang. Su Tseng-chang has the deepest connections with the Green Camp. He was a Formosa Incident defense attorney. He is considered a first generation Green Camp elder. By contrast, Lee Teng-hui served as Republic of China president under the Nationalists for 12 years. He changed his political colors only after stepping down. Tsai Ing-wen got her start as a staffer in Lee Teng-hui's KMT. Only later did she defect to Ah-Bian's DPP. She was elected chairman of the DPP only four years after her defection. Su Chen-chang's political coloration was Green all the way. Lee Teng-hui and Tsai Ing-wen changed their political colors from Blue to Green. By comparison, their flip-flopping is far more obvious.

Now however, all three must confront ECFA. On today's Green Camp ideological spectrum, Lee Teng-hui and Tsai Ing-wen are paradoxically coming across as "greener" than Su Tseng-chang. Lee and Tsai were "Late Greens." Su was an "Early Green." Yet Lee and Tsai are coming across as greener than Su. The reasons behind this are intriguing.

Lee Teng-hui was the founder of the National Unification Council and the author of the Guidelines for National Unification. He was expelled from the KMT after serving out his term as president. Only then did he join the Green Camp. Even then he urged successor Chen Shui-bian not to dismantle the "two pillars," aka the National Unification Council and the National Unification Guidelines. After Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008, Lee Teng-hui clearly hoped to cozy up to him. But the public response was negative, so Lee beat a hasty retreat. Lee was the standard-bearer for the National Unification Guidelines. Today, he has become the standard bearer for opposition to ECFA. Is such endless flip-flopping motivated by rational considerations, or merely by political opportunism?

Now take Tsai Ing-wen. During the Two Yings Debate, she had yet to express opposition to ECFA. She merely hoped to "delay signing" and demanded "conditions." But once the debate was lost, she had to position herself for re-election as party chairman. She had to respond to "Tsai/Su coopetition." That was when she began to characterize ECFA as a "duet sung by the KMT and CCP" and a "struggle between the rich and the poor." Consider the issue of national identity. That was when she went from referring to herself as the "former Vice Premier of the Republic of China," to referring to the Republic of China as a "government in exile." Such flip-flopping reflects internecine struggles within the Green Camp over both personal power and the nation's political future.

Su Tseng-chang was one of the DPP's founding fathers. Lee and Tsai were not. Su was a pioneer of the DPP's "Taiwan independence party platform." But Su's political path has never been all that clear. Su Tseng-chang's hollow political image is summed up by his equally hollow "charge, charge, charge" political mantra. In fact, the reason Su's political path has never been all that clear, is his major flip-flops. He once refused to back Ah-Bian. But now he has compromised. He once insisted he "would not accept the vice-presidential slot." But eventually he acquiesced to a "Hsieh/Su ticket." Today he is campaigning for Taipei Mayor. He has been forced to take a position on Songshan Airport and ECFA. If Su Tseng-chang were running for Mayor of Greater Kaohsiung, he probably would not hesitate to oppose ECFA. But he is running for Mayor of Taipei. He must use the moderate rhetoric of "Taipei and Beyond."

Compare Lee, Tsai, and Su. The defining character trait of Green Camp politicians is endless flip-flopping. Green Camp politicians flip-flop endlessly on their vision for the nation's future as well. Chen Shui-bian could go from "Five Noes" to "one country each side." Lee Teng-hui could go from proposing "National Unification Guidelines" to asserting that "the Republic of China no longer exists." Su Tseng-chang is running for Taipei Mayor. He feels compelled to adopt a moderate stance on ECFA. The other four DPP candidates however have all have expressed sharp opposition to ECFA. Even on such a major national issue, they are each going by their own playbook. They flip-flop personally. They flip-flop ideologically. The precedents set by Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian provide us with a lesson. In response to threats to their personal power, Green Camp politicians flip-flop endlessly. But their endless flip-flopping paradoxically, generates to new threats to their personal power. Endless flip-flopping and endless threats to their personal power become two sides of a vicious cycle.

This vicious cycle makes it impossible for Green Camp leaders to extricate themselves from power crises. It make it impossible for the Green Camp to rise above endless flip-flopping regarding the nation's future. Should they advocate Taiwan independence? They flip-flop endlessly. They hem and haw. Should they back Ah-Bian? They flip-flop endlessly. They hem and haw. When in power, they say one thing. When out of power, they say something else altogether. They have one political platform for Taipei. They have an entirely different platform for the four other four cities.

While Su was drafting the "Taiwan Independence party platform," Lee was President of the Republic of China. He was holding high the "National Unification Guidelines." Tsai Ing-wen was still a nobody. Today however, Lee and Tsai are perceived as even greener and even more independence-minded than Su. If Su Tseng-chang were running for Mayor of Kaohsiung, would he allow Lee and Tsai to posture as "greener than thou?" As "more independence-minded than thou?"

Green Camp leaders flip-flop endlessly, both personally and ideologically. What possible justification can they offer in their own defense?

2010.06.18 02:34 am












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