Will Intraparty Dissent Fall on Deaf Ears?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 26, 2011
Summary: The Blues and Greens are now meeting on the battlefield. On the KMT side, Ma Ying-jeou is waging a one man war. He comes across as frail and weak. Meanwhile, the DPP is wracked by dissent, which the party leadership completely ignores. President Ma appears exhausted. He appears to be running scared. But the DPP is totally ignoring internal dissent. From the perspective of partisan politics, that is the more chilling proposition.
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The Blues and Greens are now meeting on the battlefield. On the KMT side, Ma Ying-jeou is waging a one man war. He comes across as frail and weak. Meanwhile, the DPP is wracked by dissent, which the party leadership completely ignores. President Ma appears exhausted. He appears to be running scared. But the DPP is totally ignoring internal dissent. From the perspective of partisan politics, that is the more chilling proposition.
The Green Camp has been wracked by dissent. It began with the controversy over nominations for legislators without portfolio, and continued over recent increases in elderly farmers' subsidies, The party leadership has given dissenters the cold shoulder. This is baffling. Wang Hsing-nan, Ker Chien-ming, and Trong Chai, have ripped away each others' scabs. Are their grudges and differences merely personal? Wang Jung-chang and former political commissar Lin Wan-yi are members of the "fair tax reform alliance." On increased subsidies for elderly farmers, they held one position yesterday, and another position today. They spoke of "safeguarding Taiwan's democracy." They criticized the nominees for legislator without portfolio, saying they reflected "a failure of democratic imagination." Tsai Yu-chuang accused nominees for legislator without portfolio of "questionable personal morals." These are important matters of political ethics and political ideals. Why is the party leadership silent? Is the DPP unable to look at itself in the mirror? Does it lack the courage to accept different opinions?
The DPP is wracked by dissent, The reason is clear. One. the DPP leadership has lost its sense of direction. It has become preoccupied with short term advantage. Two. Tsai Ing-wen's leadership remains in doubt. Three. Personal and factional scores remain unresolved. Four. DPP leaders are torn between idealism and opportunism. Among these reasons, the fourth is the most critical. Alas, for the party leadership, opportunism has clearly already won out.
In terms of political evolution, this is hardly a welcome development. The DPP boasts of its dedication to democracy and reform. The myth of Chen Shui-bian as the "Son of Taiwan" has been shattered. Now however, Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to reconstruct this myth. The constant stream of internal dissent merely exposes the hollowness of this myth. Needless to say, the DPP cannot face the truth. The DPP is a political party that flip-flops endlessly, that says one thing but does another, that pursues short term advantage over long term principles, and that cannot remember what it stands for. How can voters possible trust such a party?
Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly been forced to eat crow. She has flip-flopped on the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Plant project, on nuclear power generation, on the 18% preferential interest rate, on ECFA, and on subsidies for elderly farmers. What are her principles for governing the nation? Does she even have hard and fast principles? Just how shrewd is Tsai Ing-wen? Voters have yet to see. But if she ignores the views of her own comrades today, can we really expect her to listen to the people following the election? Isn't that a pipe dream?
These problems are not confined to Tsai Ing-wen alone. They reflect the DPP's lack of openness and lack of self-introspection. When Chen Shui-bian and his family busied themselves with rampant corruption, the DPP mobilized its forces, crushing anyone in the party who dared to oppose corruption. It portrayed them as "brigands," and subjected them to "struggle sessions." Today Tsai Ing-wen and her retinue of supporters know they lack legitimacy. Therefore they turn a deaf ear to dissent. They think if they can suppress dissent, they can convey the illusion of intraparty harmony. But an illusion it all it is. The DPP has foolishly sacrificed its fundamental values, merely to gain an advantage over its enemies in the short term.
The DPP's fickle behavior reveals its lack of consistent principles. Even worse, it reveals its utter selfishness. The DPP is willing to sacrifice the nation, but unwilling to sacrifice the party. Take subsidies for farmers. Concern for the nation's fiscal health, for the systematization of annuities, for the fairness of the welfare system, and for larger scale agricultural problems, mean now is not the time to talk about increases. But the DPP is unwilling to let go of the pork in its mouth, It knows if it takes even one bite, it will revert to form. Nevertheless it cannot resist its own impulses. In fact, four years ago many Pan Greens opposed subsidies for elderly farmers, not just Wang Jung-chang and Lin Wan-yi. But Tsai Ing-wen is surrounded by people preoccupied with seizing power. They do not give a damn how they look.
What's the difference between this election and other elections over the past decade? This election lacks boasting about "reform" and "progress." This is not because political reforms on Taiwan are complete, This is because so many promises of reform and progress turned out to be empty. Reminding voters about them today would merely antagonize them. Hence the appeals to innocent first time voters, begging them to "Save Taiwan!" But no matter how eloquent politicians are, they cannot erase the footprints on the road they have traveled. No matter what rosy promises they might make about the future, they cannot escape the verdict of history. President Ma has been subjected to three years of political inquisition. The DPP's eight years in office was a total wash, marked by endless waffling on issues too numerous to mention. No matter how inexperienced voters may be, they should have no trouble learning the truth. They need only listen to the voices of dissent emerging from the Green Camp.