Posturing on a National Policy Conference: Enough is Enough
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 18, 2012
Summary: Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang have called on the Ma administration to convene a "National Policy Conference on the Retirement Annuity." Tsai and Su should forget about their phony call for a national policy conference. They should return to the problem of reforming the DPP's cross-Strait policy. If they invite President Ma to a national policy conference on cross-Strait policy, the public will surely approve and applaud.
Full Text below:
Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang have called on the Ma administration to convene a "National Policy Conference on the Retirement Annuity." President Ma shot down their proposal. Instead, President Ma invited Tsai and Su to the Presidential Palace to participate in a "National Policy Advisory Meeting." The three would discuss, face-to-face, issues such as the retirement annuities. They would even talk about whether to hold a national policy conference. Two hours later, Tsai and Su rejected this proposal.
Enough is enough. Ring down the curtain on this sorry farce. As Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jing-pyn put it, the Pension Annuities issue is a matter of law. It must be handled with caution. He said "Matters of law are the Legislative Yuan's responsibility." He said other issues could be raised in a national policy conference. That would be a different matter. But the Pension Annuity issue is the responsibility of the Legislative Yuan. Wang Jinping's insights underscore a simple fact. The so-called "National Policy Conference on the Retirement Annuity" is a phony issue:
One. Can one address the Retirement Annuity issue without convening a national policy conference? Answer: Of course one can. As Wang Jinpyng noted, Retirement Pension and Annuity Reform is a highly specialized legislative matter. It requires debate by the legislature and by the political parties. They must bear responsibility. They must listen to differing views. A public hearing is perfectly adequate. Whence the need to convene a national policy conference?
When Tsai Ing-wen was DPP chairman, policies such as ECFA had powerful political overtones. Tsai Ing-wen repeatedly refused dialogue with President Ma. Did anyone ever hear her call for a national policy conference on ECFA? Instead Tsai Ing-wen led the DPP onto the streets, and engaged in bloody clashes. ECFA was eventually signed. It was a great achievement. Yet it did not require the convening of a national policy conference. Under DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang, the DPP legislative caucus held overnight sit-ins. The matter was eventually resolved. Did that require the convening of a national policy conference?
Two. Will failure to convene a national policy conference make "blue-green reconciliation" impossible? Answer: Of course not. If the blue and green camps can reconcile, then anything can be reconciled. Over the past two decades, a dozen or so large and small "national policy conferences" have been convened. What, if anything, was "reconciled?" Take the pension fund or end of year condolence fund. Blue-green reconciliation requires nothing more than bipartisan agreement within the legislature. That is enough to ensure the legislative responsibility Wang Jin-pyng spoke of. In this connection, we hope DPP Taipei City Council Members will cease their baseless and unfounded allegations that Mayor Hau Lung-bin's wife accepted a diamond ring as a bribe. Does that too require the convening of a national policy conference? The notion that "national policy conferences contribute to blue-green reconciliation" is a delusion. Two decades of political experience has confirmed that. Anyone who maintains otherwise is either ignorant or disingenuous. Based on these reasons, there is no need to convene a national policy conference.
Do not whitewash Tsai Ing-wen's dismal record. Do not turn a blind eye to her political deceit. She did not call for a national policy conference on ECFA, on the Three Laws pertaining to Mainland Students, on US beef imports. She did not call for a national policy conference when Frank Hsieh provoked a storm of controversy over cross-Strait issues. She did not even call for a "party policy conference." Tsai Ing-wen is wearing the "emperors' new clothes." They are transparent ploys. Calling a national policy conference is mere show. It is "selective indignation." Should large sums of public monies be squandered on one? Should social resources be wasted to underwrite her national policy conference publicity stunt? Isn't she underestimating the intelligence of the public on Taiwan?
Three. The third reason one need not convene a national policy conference is that one must not allow insincere and opportunistic politicians to play times mind games on the public. If she wants to take to the streets, then let her take to the streets. If she wants reconciliation, then she can have her reconciliation. The president asked her to dialogue. She refused. She expects others to defer to her every whim. She expects the president "to take the lead in the public dialogue." When she was party chairman, she stubbornly refused to dialogue. Now that she is no longer party chairman, she demands dialogue. She did not call for a national policy conference on ECFA. Instead she took to the streets. She did not call for a national policy conference on the Three Laws pertaining to Mainland Students. Instead DPP legislators squirted superglue into the locks on the doors of the legislature. She did not call for a national policy conference on the U.S. beef imports issue. Instead DPP legislators conducted a sit-in on the legislature floor. She is calling for a national conference only on the retirement annuity issue. Her political deceit has sunk to this level. Whither her credibility?
We are deeply concerned about retirement annuities. But the solution is not another national policy conference. We look forward to blue-green reconciliation. But national policy conferences are hardly the sole means of reconciliation. Over the past two decades we have convened no less than a dozen "National Policy Conferences." The 1996 National Development Conference is considered the most successful one. But in fact the greatest achievement of that conference was bipartisan collusion in an outrageous and disastrous undermining of the constitution. Other national policy conferences were merely rubber stamps. The retirement annuity is an issue that has no utterly no need for a national policy conference. The matter would be far better handled by political parties inside the Legislative Yuan. Whence the need for a national conference?
Politicians should demonstrate good faith and seek reconciliation, always and everywhere. They should not put on a show by calling for a "national policy conference."
Finally, there is the infighting between Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang. Do not take this infighting onto the national stage. Suppose the two decide to meet with President Ma. Which of the two should meet with Ma first? Should they meet with him at the same time? This will probably be impossible to decide. As we can see, Tsai and Su should forget about their phony call for a national policy conference. They should return to the problem of reforming the DPP's cross-Strait policy. If they invite President Ma to a national policy conference on cross-Strait policy, the public will surely approve and applaud.