The DPP's Desire for Conflict has Wounded the ROC's Democracy
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 10, 2010
Sure enough, physical violence erupted over the cross-strait economic framework agreement (ECFA) during an emergency session of the legislature. KMT Legislator Wu Yu-Sheng was hit in the head by an electric timer and left bleeding. After DPP Legislator Huang Wei-che, who threw the timer, offered an apology, the DPP delegation withdrew from the emergency session. But it continued making impossible demands, and prattled on about the "death of democracy" and "the biggest blot on the reputation of the legislature." The DPP refuses to admit that it undermined the dignity of the legislature, trampled on democratic values, and has been habitually unable to control its violent impulses.
Is the DPP truly unaware that violent behavior undermines its party image just as much as it undermined the dignity of the legislature? Julian Kuo is the spokesman for the DPP Legislative Caucus on ECFA. He said the DPP cannot win the current battle over ECFA, and should begin thinking about how it can establish an image of itself as a "tragic, heroic, but rational" political party. It should not persist in initiating physical violence. Instead, he said, "The DPP must think long and hard about how to deal with its imminent defeat."
Has the DPP thought long and hard? DPP Legislator Pan Meng-an revealed that those within the legislative caucus who oppose violence outnumber those who favor it. When interviewed, Ker Chien-ming, Executive Director of the DPP Policy Committee, said, "The ECFA controversy will not be allowed to persist until the five cities elections." In other words, the DPP knows full well that overdoing its protests will be extremely damaging to the party's image and to the party's effort to win over moderate voters.
The DPP should consider the potential impact on the upcoming elections. It should also consider the opinions of its own local level officials. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu recently visited Kaohsiung County. Spokesmen for the fish farming industry in Yung-an Township affirmed that ECFA was beneficial to fishermen and the fish farming industry. Tainan County Chief Su Huan-chih and Yunlin County Chief Su Chih-fen went to the Mainland to promote sales of agricultural products. Su Huan-chih declined to participate in the DPP's anti-ECFA protest march. He preferred to stay in Tainan and discuss the establishment of a Mainland base for the sale of Taiwan agricultural products. Even Ker Chien-ming spoke openly to the machinery industry. He said the DPP's protests helped Taiwan negotiate more benefits. But he added that the DPP had no objections to the 539 items on the early harvest list. It merely lamented the failure to win another 200 items. These views, expressed by DPP officials, show that the DPP cannot stubbornly insist that ECFA is harmful to Taiwan. If anything, the DPP must acknowledge that ECFA is more or less beneficial. That being the case, must the DPP persist in bloody violence before it is satisfied?
During ruling KMT and opposition DPP consultations, the DPP delegation demanded that President Ma report to the Legislative Yuan. But ECFA was not a treaty ratified by the president. Therefore there is no reason why he should be compelled to report to the legislature. Should the premier report to the legislature? That depends upon the Legislative Yuan, and whether it passes a resolution to that effect. But ever since the proceedings began, total chaos has prevailed. There has been no chance to discuss ECFA, let alone to listen to reports. How can one talk about any "early loss list?"
To be fair, it takes two to tango. During the recent violence in the legislature, Wu Yu-sheng was hit in the head and required eight stitches. But he was not the only one injured. Several DPP legislators fell from the podium. They may not have bled, but their contusions were just as painful. The opposition DPP's scorched earth tactics have proven effective in the past. They often brought the legislature to a standstill. KMT legislators had no choice but to respond in earnest, to prevent DPP legislators from approaching the podium and disrupting the proceedings. TV footage shows ruling party legislators on the podium and opposition party legislators below with stern expressions on their faces. But others had smiles on theirs. Were it not for the thrown timer, the entire altercation might well be dismissed as a vast charade.
After Wu Yu-Sheng was hospitalized, DPP legislators sneered, and accused him of "faking it." Huang Wei-che even denied that he was the one who injured Wu. Huang said he threw a book. But when the closed circuit video footage was made public, Huang Wei-che was forced to admit his guilt and apologize. Other DPP officials however, dug in their heels and continued protesting, accusing the KMT and President Ma of being "tyrannical behavior." But just exactly who was guilty of "tyrannical behavior?" Suppose a KMT legislator had thrown an electric timer and struck a DPP legislator? Would the DPP say the bleeding victim was "faking it?"
A nation's legislature is the benchmark of its democracy. The business of the legislature is to organize, discuss, and reach accomodations between differing views. People who hold differing views may not be able to persuade each other. But submitting to the majority decision is an unchanging principle of democracy. Besides, the DPP must not forget that although some industries on Taiwan may be negatively impacted by ECFA, most industries will benefit. And since the government has promised to compensate vulnerable industries, why can't the DPP view the matter from the perspective of maximizing the good, while minimizing the bad? Why can't it decide to oversee the government's measures, and do what it can on behalf of vulnerable industries?
The legislature must not be an ideological battleground. We may have Blue political parties and Green political parties. We may have pro-reunification parties and pro-independence parties. But public policy affects a nation's progress and the public interest. Cross-Strait policy is no exception. If every cross-Strait policy sent to the Legislative Yuan must be fought over, again and again, to where fists must fly and accusations that the other side is pro-reunification or pro-independence must be hurled back and forth, what hope is there for the nation? ECFA is a cross-Strait agreement. It is also a step Taipei must take during the globalization process in order to arrive at a level playing field. The DPP must put the interests and well-being of the majority of the people ahead of its party ideology. Only then can it win the public trust. No political party should seek victory by initiating physical violence.