DPP Alternatives: Pursue Progress or Blindly Oppose Ma
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
September 10, 2013
Summary: Wang Jin-pyng has caused an uproar by peddling influence in the Ker Chien-ming corruption case. Perhaps the most incomprehensible aspect of the current controversy is the DPP's self-contradictory rhetoric. One minute the Green Camp dismisses the prosecution as "political persecution." The next minute it accuses the Special Investigation Unit of "illegal wiretapping." The one aspect of the case it completely ignores is political interference in the judicial process. Does the DPP consider legislators peddling influence in court cases a matter unworthy of concern?
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Wang Jin-pyng has caused an uproar by peddling influence in the Ker Chien-ming corruption case. Perhaps the most incomprehensible aspect of the current controversy is the DPP's self-contradictory rhetoric. One minute the Green Camp dismisses the prosecution as "political persecution." The next minute it accuses the Special Investigation Unit of "illegal wiretapping." The one aspect of the case it completely ignores is political interference in the judicial process. Does the DPP consider legislators peddling influence in court cases a matter unworthy of concern?
President Ma spoke out on the case. He said "If this is not influence peddling, what is?" "This is the most shameful day in the history of Taiwan's democracy and its rule of law." DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang ridiculed the president's statement. He said "If this is not a political power struggle, what is?" He said "This is the darkest day in the history of Taiwan's system of justice and human rights." Su's posturing reveals the DPP's lack of creativity and inability to engage in independent thought. Even worse, it reveals Su's utter befuddlement regarding his role in the matter.
President Ma's condemnation was directed primarily at Wang Jin-pying, the President of the Legislative Yuan. Ma did not even mention DPP party whip Ker Chien-ming's role in the scandal. Therefore, what precisely as Su's role when he responded? Was he speaking on behalf of Wang Jin-pying, or was he speaking on behalf of Ker Chien-ming? An opposition party chairman painted himself into a tiny corner on such an isolated issue. His rush to retort and counterattack merely made him appear confused. It made his behavior appear inappropriate. Worse still, he dragged the entire DPP down with him.
When the case first broke, the DPP flatly contradicted itself. On the one hand, it demanded that the Ma government immediately investigate Tseng Yung-fu. On the other hand, it dismissed the case as a mere "political power struggle." It accused President Ma of using the Special Investigation Unit to purge dissidents. But if DPP allegations were true, then Tseng Yung-fu would have been just another tool in the alleged "political power struggle." The DPP insists that Wang Jin-pying never peddled influence on behalf of Ker Chien-ming. But it simultaneously demands that Tseng Yung-fu resign because he allegedly succumbed to influence peddling. What is this, other than a flagrant contradiction? The DPP even argued that the executive and judicial branches cannot tolerate influence peddling, but the legislative branch must permit open and flagrant influence peddling, and that it must be immune from wiretapping. What manner of logic is this?
Even more ironically, the DPP pointed the finger at the Special Investigation Unit for "illegal wiretapping." It pointed the finger at President Ma for "unconstitutional" theft of the President of the Legislature's phone records. But from beginning to end, it never said one word about fellow comrade Ker Chien-ming or his role in the influence peddling case. Su expressed no desire to investigate the facts. Party comrades expressed no desire to ascertain whether Ker Chien-ming was in violation of party disciplinary rules. None of them questioned the seriousness of DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming's role in influence peddling. The DPP has long been "tough on others, and easy on itself." Therefore this hypocrisy was hardly surprising. But the rationalization of Ker Chien-ming's wrongdoing reached absurd levels. Support for Ker and opposition to Ma have extended to blind favoritism toward Wang Jin-pying, and complete indifference to right and wrong. The DPP even appears indifferent to public condemnation.
The DPP is an opposition party. Its seeks to gain political advantage from each and every political incident that arises. It seizes the opportunity to bring the ruling KMT down a notch, whenever it can. These are of course, instinctive political moves. But all political moves involve costs. Even assuming one achieves one's purpose, one must never forget the price paid. Therefore even if certain individuals profit handsomely, the party as a whole may end up paying in the end.
Consider the current influence peddling case. The gist of the story is not hard to grasp. The public sees politicians interfering with the justice system on their own behalf. They see ministers and prosecutors at the politicians' beck and call. Many feel outrage at the injustice. They feel these gray areas distort democracy and the rule of law, and must be reformed. But the DPP sees things differently. It thinks that political smokescreens will allow them to muddy the waters. It thinks that lashing out at Ma will provide them with a cost effective windfall profit. As we all know, the toxic smoke of conspiracy theories can obscure the government's pursuit of justice and progress, until all that remains is unrelenting political struggle. If the DPP persists in its present course of action, what will the public make of the DPP as a party? Will it continue to perceive it as "progressive?"
We would like to remind the DPP that the current influence peddling scandal may be a major blow to the KMT. But if it uses the opportunity to address its bad habits, it can emerge as a beacon for constitutional rule and political progress. Conversely, the DPP must be wary of opposing Ma at every opportunity, of standing on the sidelines poisoning the political atmosphere, and of invoking conspiracy theories that blur the focus and obstruct justice. Doing so will only reveal its corruption, favoritism, and hypocrisy. The DPP is likely to pay a heavy price in lost ideals and eroded grassroots support. The current campaign against influence peddling may perish at the hands of the DPP. The party as a whole may be sacrificed to shield Ker Chien-ming from his wrongdoing. If so, the DPP will have pitted itself against the public.
Years ago, the DPP obstinately aided and abetted the hopelessly corrupt Chen Shui-bian. As a result, the public withdrew its support. Today the Kuomintang is willing to prosecute Wang Jin-pyng for influence peddling. Yet the DPP is obstinately aiding and abetting Ker Chien-ming. Our concern is not that the DPP is "swallowing poison to quench its thirst." Our concern is that rampant conspiracy theories and opposition party political moves will obliterate public awareness of right and wrong. They will bring the public to the brink of oblivion. We call on the DPP to consider social values and democratic progress. We call on the DPP to exercise moral courage, to call a spade a spade, and to help Taiwan in its pursuit of progress.
2013.09.10 03:17 am