Can the White Vision Transcend Blue vs. Green Confrontation?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 3, 2014
Executive Summary: Like it or not, the Wen-Je Ko phenomena garnered the lion’s share of attention during the recent election. He won 57% of the vote in the nation’s capital. He took every voting district. This local Taiwan election repeatedly made international news, with him as the focus. Wen-Je Ko offered a "white vision." Can he transcend blue vs. green confrontation in real life? Will he be a positive force? That remains to be seen. But it is something to hope for.
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Like it or not, the Wen-Je Ko phenomena garnered the lion’s share of attention during the recent election. He won 57% of the vote in the nation’s capital. He took every voting district. This local Taiwan election repeatedly made international news, with him as the focus. Wen-Je Ko offered a "white vision." Can he transcend blue vs. green confrontation in real life? Will he be a positive force? That remains to be seen. But it is something to hope for.
The Wen-Je Ko phenomenon has been compared to a tornado. If so, then Wen-Je Ko is a balloon. What really deserves attention is the unseen forces that support the balloon. Wen-Je Ko’s "white vision" was the result of a confluence of complex forces. One. Ko P’s record as a physician who treated many politicians overshadowed his political colors. Two. The Hung Chung-chiu incident and Sunflower Student Movement won him the support of social movements and younger voters. Three. Prolonged blue vs. green confrontation led to political and economic stagnation. People were fed up. Four. Citizens in the capital city were open-minded enough to give Ko’s "white experiment" a try. Five. With globalization as a catalyst. a backlash against political dynasties ensued, overriding traditional blue vs. green considerations. Together these factors enabled the white balloon to take flight.
Admittedly, this “white vision” hides a paradox. One. Under the "average Joe" image is a Wen-Je Ko who may have “white skin,” but is "green to the bone.” What is he really? Is he straightforward and ingenuous, or is he sinister and cunning? Two. All through the election campaign, Wen-Je Ko got a free pass, courtesy his "deification." But once he assumes office, will his god-like image be stripped away? Three. Ko loudly trumpeted "citizen participation." But is this something he can actually implement in real life?
In fact, Wen-Je Ko has already run into problems over the past two days, while recruiting members of his administration. For example, he announced his intention to make Lin Chin-wing, an advocate of urban renewal, deputy mayor. That provoked a wave of criticism from Wen Lin Yuan social movement activists and the Sunflower Student Movement. They consider Lin the hatchetman in the Tainan Railway eastward relocation plan and the Hsinchu Puyu Plan. Wen-Je Ko also decided to open up the Labor Bureau and the Environmental Protection Bureau to "I-VOTING," allowing netizens to go online and vote. This also provoked criticism from labor organizers and academics, who called it a "rotten idea." They say that insufficient information has been provided and that the trumpeted “citizen participation” simply will not work. DPP insiders also asked him to forsake this approach. They consider it inconsistent with taking personal political responsibility.
Wen-Je Ko's "citizen participation" initiative was certainly loudly promoted and attractively packaged. But when it came time for implementation, it inevitably collided with reality, and his pretty slogans became dead letters. Take the Selection Committee and the Director of the Bureau of Internet Balloting. Suppose a policy runs into trouble or the director’s views differ from the mayor’s? Who would assume responsibility? Wen-Je Ko’s charisma depends upon a large number of student movement and social movement activists. Yet his political appointments have already been questioned by these same student movement and social movement activists. Over time the relationship will inevitably sour, and the Wen-Je Ko legend will sour along with it.
That said, we still hold out hope for this "white vision." In fact, Wen-Je Ko is not the issue at all. The real issue is that people long for change. That yearning can tear down tiresome blue vs. green confrontation. At least it can help political parties on Taiwan move toward a more symbiotic, more mutually beneficial relationship. Wen-Je Ko overturned the traditional blue vs. green political arrangement in the capital city. He successfully created a “white zone.” That much is clear to all. But his influence extends deeper into the blue camp than the green camp.He must now ensure that the "white force" penetrates the green camp masses and politicians as well. That is probably a far greater challenge.
During the recent election, the KMT was traumatized. It paid a painful price. It still does not know how to clean up the mess. By contrast, all the DPP had to do was engage in obstructionism then wait for the ruling KMT to make a mistake. This enabled it to conquer the realm. But was this really a gift from heaven? Recall the first half of this year. The DPP found it almost impossible to field a candidate in the capital city mayoral election. Its plight became an embarrassment. It is now riding the currents of Wen-Je Ko’s "white vision." It has actually taken down all Taiwan. It is now preening, a winner. But it probably feels embarrassed as well. If the victors in counties and municipalities taken by the green camp immediately beging squabbling over the spoils, how will they look in the peoples’ eyes? How will the people feel?
Does the Wen-Je Ko phenomenon represent public rejection of blue vs. green confrontation in favor of a "white vision?" If it does, then this vision has successfully taken the first step. Next, Wen-Je Ko must "transcend blue vs. green" as he originally promised. He must urge the blue and green camps to reflect upon their values and behavior. This was the original intent of the "white force." The greatest danger is that Wen-Je Ko will forget his original intent amidst political consideration, or lose himself amidst the public adoration. In that happens, the Wen-Je Ko legend will be shattered sooner rather than later.
The white balloon took flight by virtue of a diverse confluence of forces. Wen-Je Ko’s responsibility is to keep the balloon afloat, to prevent it from falling because the wind has died out. He must not forget his “average Joe” promises. Ma Ying-jeou went from "box office magic" to " box office poison." That should serve as a stern warning.
2014.12.03 01:58 am