Hao, Chu, and Hu: Jockeying for Position?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 29, 2012
Summary: Society on Taiwan is highly politicized. Everyone has his own agenda. Everyone sings his own tune. No issue escapes being politically pigeonholed. This political curse keeps Taiwan trapped in a Blue vs. Green political quagmire. Reconciliation has become a castle in the air, a mirage, a charade. There are 23 million people on Taiwan besides Ah-Bian. There are things more important than politics. If we cannot get beyond even this, then Taiwan has no future.
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Society on Taiwan is highly politicized. Everyone has his own agenda. Everyone sings his own tune. No issue escapes being politically pigeonholed. This political curse keeps Taiwan trapped in a Blue vs. Green political quagmire. Reconciliation has become a castle in the air, a mirage, a charade.
Recently Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin suggested that former President Chen Shui-bian, who is currently in prison, be released on medical parole. People immediately assumed he was laying the groundwork for a presidential bid. Supporters of Jason Hu announced their support for Jason Hu as party chairman. Not to be outdone, Supporters of Eric Chu proposed that Eric Chu run for president and that Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan run for mayor of Xinbei City. These are matters that should be dealt with two to four years from now. Was it really necessary to lay the groundwork and even jockey for position so early?
Hao, Chu, and Hu are KMT mayors of directly administered municipalities. They are not part of the central government. They are three party princes who have helped the KMT consolidate its power. These three men have minds of their own. They take no pleasure in attacking the central government. The public on Taiwan knows this. Less a month ago, the Ma administration's reputation probed new lows following Lin Yi-shi's indictment for extortion. When rumors emerged that party members wanted President Ma to resign as party chairman, these three men simultaneously expressed support for Ma Ying-jeou. They said they wanted him to stay on as party chairman. They are not jockeying for position. They know Taiwan faces a tough test as the global economy reaches new lows. They know there are more important things than changes in the ruling party. They know there are more important things than competing for power within the party. They know that if the ruling party invests its energy in jockeying for position, its economic initiatives will fail, and it will lose its hold on political power. Therefore scrambling for power within the party is pointless.
The slogan "Hao, Chu, and Hu" rings in our ears. Many people are urging them to run for party chairman or president. These people may be current or former staffers or aides. But they all confirm one thing: "You always hurt the one you love." One. All three of them still have two years left in their term. Hao is not eligible for another term. Hu and Chu are. But the KMT primary system has a timetable. The earliest it can go into operation is the end of next year or the beginning of the year after that. The political situation on Taiwan changes quickly. The variables are too many to be predictable. Who knows how matters will stand two years from now? Two. Cabinet heads cannot nominate whomever they wish for president. Even less can aides. Sean Chen's cabinet is only six months old. It is too early to start proposing new candidates for premier. It is also disrespectful to the current premier. Three. Hao, Chu, and Hu are currently serving mayors. Their top priority is governing their cities. If they do a good job, their futures are assured. If they do a poor job, declaring their candidacies early will do them no good.
When Hau Lung-bin inaugurated "Freedom Lane," he suggested that the Ministry of Justice form a team of medical professionals to determine whether Chen Shui-bian should be granted medical parole. This led to middle-aged candidates jockeying for position. It was probably not what he expected. But it shows that Blue vs. Green opposition on Taiwan remains a Gordian Knot. The Chen family corruption scandal erupted. Chen has already gone to prison. But some Chen supporters still refuse to believe Chen engaged in corruption. They still claim that a former head of state being imprisoned amounts to political persecution. They wonder how long Chen should remain in prison, when he should be granted a pardon, and whether he should be granted medical parole? Society on Taiwan is polarized. This problem has legal, political, and human rights implications. But it has little to do with jockeying for position among middle-aged political candidates. Hau Lung-bin's proposal was applauded by the Green camp. But many more Blue camp members looked askance at Hau's proposal. Clearly Hau was not motivated by a desire to jockey for position.
Hau Lung-bin majored in the hard sciences. His thinking differs from politicians who majored in the social sciences. He seldom makes any rash moves. He consistently tries to do the right thing, and say what's on his mind. He seldom makes political calculations. Hau is the son of military veteran and former premier Hau Pei-tsun, who vigorously opposed Taiwan independence. After Hau entered politics, he had no problem cooperating with the DPP on public policy. He incurred the wrath of the Blue camp. He served as head of the Chen regime Environmental Protection Department. He accomplished much in the gap between the Blue and Green camps. Ruling vs. opposition party relations prevents Taiwan from moving forward. Hau's personal and political experiences are inspiring. But is Hau Lung-bin the only one who feels this way? Blue vs. Green battles persist. They prevent the Ma administration from implementing its policies. Is the ruling KMT truly indifferent to this?
Everyone wants Blue Green reconciliation. Hau Lung-bin's proposal may not be feasible. But can ruling and opposition political leaders ignore Hau's aspirations? Must frigid relations between the ruling and opposition parties lead to Taiwan's collapse? Should Chen be granted medical parole? That question requires a professional medical opinion. Leave aside whether Ah-Bian should be granted medical parole. Is it really not possible to organize a team of medical experts able to offer a credible opinion? Conversely, how long does the Green Camp intend to remain stuck to the Ah-Bian tar baby? Must Blue/Green reconciliation be linked to Ah-Bien? Chen Shui-bian was in power for eight years. He controlled vast resources. He wielded immense power. No one owes him anything. There are 23 million people on Taiwan besides Ah-Bian. There are things more important than politics. If we cannot get beyond even this, then Taiwan has no future.