Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Emergency Session Must End the National Nightmare

The Emergency Session Must End the National Nightmare
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 25, 2012

Summary: Today the Legislative Yuan convened an emergency session. The ruling KMT and opposition DPP proposed dozens of bills in back and forth battle. Among the most important of these were U.S. beef imports and the capital gains tax. The Legislative Yuan must arrive at a decision. It cannot allow these two nightmares to continue to haunt society.

Full Text below:

Today the Legislative Yuan convened an emergency session. The ruling KMT and opposition DPP proposed dozens of bills in back and forth battle. Among the most important of these were U.S. beef imports and the capital gains tax. The Legislative Yuan must arrive at a decision. It cannot allow these two nightmares to continue to haunt society.

U.S. beef imports and the capital gains tax have provoked intense controversy, in part because the ruling KMT failed to seize the moment. Even more frightening is the militant political culture on Taiwan, with its habitual aggressiveness, in which demagogues toy with national policy just for the fun of it. This is the biggest stumbling block to political progress on Taiwan. The ruling KMT lacks determination. The opposition DPP lacks integrity. Together they have mired society in controversy for half a year. Is this not enough?

Take U.S. beef imports. The Codex Alimentarius has set residue standards for Ractopamine. The opposition DPP's sole justification for opposing US beef imports has evaporated. The ruling KMT and opposition DPP are now more concerned about winning or losing the vote. So why the half year long battle? The opposition DPP insisted on "zero tolerance" under the guise of national health. It wasted everyone's time and energy. It brought the debate down to an anti-science level. The DPP resorted to every means at its disposal. But what about its own political convictions when it was in power? It has been making all sorts of baseless allegations. It staged a brute force occupation of the podium in the legislature for five days and four nights. It exacted an incalculable cost on society. Who will be the one to pay?

The ruling and opposition parties are using the emergency session to wage war. The DPP will continue to vote nay. It says it will not change its obstructionist stance. It is saying no just for the sake of saying no. Can such a political party prove it is rational and progressive? What about the KMT? This bill must be submitted to a vote before it can be passed into law. But the Blue Camp already has the seats to achieve this goal. Why the weakness, hesitation, and bickering? First they resisted the instructions from the party leadership. Now they must bow and give in. What sort of political party is so lacking in resolve?

Now take the capital gains tax. The bill was changed again and again. It missed its window of opportunity. It even caused the stock market to plummet. Today the Executive Yuan version of the bill takes 8500 points as its baseline. This is tantamount to announcing a postponement. This may not be the best time to introduce the capital gains tax. But society has already endured six months of turmoil. We can dismiss the lessons of this tragic experience?

They say a bear market is not the time to impose a capital gains tax. But neither is a bull market. They no longer require justifications. The legislature should not cavalierly surrender on the capital gains tax. It may as well pass the bill. It may as well let everyone know the bottom line. A major investor in the stock market earning huge profits must know that he will pay capital gains tax. Small investors must know their rights will not be affected. Ordinary citizens outside the loop must know the government will not allow the wealthiest businessmen to make unearned profits. This will kill three birds with one stone.

A government incapable of promoting its policies is shameful. An opposition party incapable of finding its own direction is pitiful. Both major political parties have let the people down. The Ma administration began its second term in January. This was a golden opportunity to begin anew. But his party and administration wavered, hesitated, and bickered over U.S. beef imports, the capital gains tax, and gasoline and electricity price hikes. The KMT and the Ma administration wasted half a year and allowed a golden opportunity to slip through their fingers.

Meanwhile the opposition DPP thinks all it needs to do is trip up the Ma administration. It thinks any Ma administration loss will be a DPP victory. But as we all know, those who suffer the most amidst the fog of war, will be ordinary folk and innocent business people. During the U.S. beef imports controversy, opposition DPP politicians insulted the peoples' intelligence with their bigoted and inflammatory language. Worse, they deprived consumers of their freedom of choice. DPP politicians must cease their obstructionism. During the capital gains tax controversy, the DPP repeatedly stressed "taxation based on ability to pay." Now it is claiming "The timing is not right" and calling for a postponement. Does it intend to betray peoples' expectations for fairness and justice? Or does it intend allow this collective wound to heal?

The ruling KMT lacks the courage of its convictions. The opposition DPP knows only how to tear down, not how to build up. Neither is able to establish a healthy democracy. Today the Legislative Yuan will convene an emergency session. The ruling and opposition parties are waging offensive and defensive campaigns on both the tactical and strategic level. They must not forget the original purpose of politics -- the management of public issues. They must not forget the political battlefield is filled with more than their rivals. It is also filled with ordinary citizens. Consider the timeline. The U.S. beef imports and capital gains controversies have plagued society for six months. Taiwan has been a hostage to decades of Blue vs. Green infighting. Politicians must be wise, and not become the object of people's nightmares.

2012.07.25 02:55 am










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