The Difference between Statesmen and Politicians
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
August 27, 2013
Summary: Nineteenth century American pastor James Freeman Clarke said "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation." DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang refused to participate in the great debate over TISA. He dodged reporters' questions. Chairman Su is clearly a typical politician.
Full text below:
Nineteenth century American pastor James Freeman Clarke said "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation." DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang refused to participate in the great debate over TISA. He dodged reporters' questions. Chairman Su is clearly a typical politician.
What constitutes the well-being of the next generation? Does the just signed TISA count? Chairman Su argues that TISA seriously undermines our national security, job security, and social order. He insists this is an agreement harmful to Taiwan, that sells out Taiwan. Clearly it was a major issue, one that affects the dignity, autonomy, and happiness of 23 million citizens of the Republic of China. Much is at stake. The agreement affects not just this generation, but the next generation, perhaps even the generation after that. On this point, Chairman Su agrees. Since he does, why not stand up on stage and accept questions by reporters from the four newspapers and one news service seated below? Yet Chairman Su remains tight-lipped.
According to news reports, Chairman Su was convinced that the media had preconceived positions on the issue, and he was afraid of walking into a trap. Su was probably thinking of media support for TISA. But there are 23 million people on Taiwan. Some support TISA. Some oppose it. And didn't Chairman Su say it was his intent to support the service industry, to help Taiwan? Now a rare opportunity has come along. Reporters from four newspapers and one news service sit in the audience. Here is a perfect opportunity for you to display your eloquence. Here is your chance to expound your "phony TISA, actual sell out of Taiwan" thesis. Here is your chance to demolish these "preconceived positions" in front of everyone. Here is your chance to show these "preconceived positions" for what they are, incapable of withstanding close scrutiny. What reason is there to fear walking into a trap? Unless of course Chairman Su is still under the spell of McCarthyism, seeing Reds under the bed, and impervious to reason. In which case, why fear walking into a trap? He has already painted himself into a corner.
Next, consider the media perspective. Reporters from four newspapers and one news service do not speak with a single voice. They would not simply sit in the audience asking questions. They wanted to participate, to ask questions, because they hoped to hear what different people had to say about TISA, so that the truth could emerge. Chairman Su was fearful. To ensure that the debate took place, the presidential office reluctantly agreed to participate. But lest Chairman Su forget, the next day's news would write about and comment on this major issue, taking up several pages. Yet he pretended not to see, not to hear, and refused to respond. What sort of attitude was this, except laughable self-deception?
Let us back up for a moment. Is the Fourth Estate really so terrifying? Chairman Su, suppose you become the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate for the 2016 presidential election? When you participate in a TV debate, will you be afraid of the media's "preconceived positions?" Will you be afraid of walking into a trap? Will you do as you did during the recent TISA debate? Will you refuse to allow any media organizations other than PTV to participate? Will you forbid all questions from reporters? We certainly hope not.
A presidential term is four years long. How will it impact the public on Taiwan? What about TISA? Once TISA is signed into law, its impact will persist for 8 years, 10 years, perhaps longer. It is of immensely greater importance than a presidential election. Yet Chairman Su refused to reporters' questions. But when the presidential election rolls around, it is suddenly okay for reporters to ask questions again. Chairman Su, why is that? What is your motivation? Personal power and status? Or the well-being of the nation? What do you care about? Do you care about the chaos you incited over national security, job security, and social order? Or do you care only about a four-year term as president?
Another reason why Chairman Su refused to allow reporters to ask questions may have to do with former DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen. Three years ago, the ruling and opposition parties organized a "Two Yings Debate" over ECFA. Reporters were forbidden to ask questions then as well. You cited that precedent. Were you afraid of losing twice in one battle?
The Two Yings Debate forbade reporters to ask questions. Frankly, that was a defect in an otherwise important policy debate. If the public and the media could have joined the war of words on stage, the result would have been even more satisfactory.
Furthermore, what former Chairman Tsai lacked back then, Chairman Su could make up for. But you failed to consider this. Instead you were afraid that former Chairman Tsai would not appear before certain "designated media." This time however, it is your turn. Now all you can do is suffer in silence.
What's worse? Losing to President Ma was no problem. He will not be running for president again anyway. But losing to former Chairman Tsai, that would be a catastrophe. During the DPP party chairman election next year, she could be your rival. She could end up as the 2016 presidential candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party. For you it is a tightrope walk, all the way. Put bluntly, the outcome of the "lose-lose battle" is your individual responsibility. It has nothing to do with TISA.
In short, TISA has an impact on future cross-Strait development. Politically, economically, and socially, it is having a critical impact. At this juncture, we hope that opposition party Chairman Su Tseng-chang is not using every trick in the book merely to cling to his personal power, personal status, and personal interests. We hope that he is actually concerned about the well-being of 23 million people.
After all, Taiwan has no shortage of politicians. What it lacks is statesmen.
19世紀美國一位牧師克拉克（James Freeman Clarke）說過，「政治家與政客的區別在於，政治家著眼於下一代的福祉，而政客，只看下一次的選舉」。在服貿辯論的大舞台上，民進黨主席蘇貞昌拒絕媒體參與、迴避第四權提問，從這件事上看得出來，蘇主席就是一典型政客。