United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 3, 2015
Executive Summary: All major national policies are currently deadlocked. A change in the ruling party may take place in 2016, and become a major turning point in Taiwan's future. DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen has proposed a National Affairs Conference. This could be the perfect occasion for a public debate on possible changes in 2016. We hope no one will forcibly occupy the podium during this national forum.
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All major national policies are currently deadlocked. A change in the ruling party may take place in 2016, and become a major turning point in Taiwan's future. DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen has proposed a National Affairs Conference. This could be the perfect occasion for a public debate on possible changes in 2016. We hope no one will forcibly occupy the podium during this national forum.
Perhaps no one will forcibly occupy the podium. But that does not mean that no one will attempt to stage-manage this forum in a one-sided manner. The composition of the forum, the setting, and the issues, should all be decided jointly, in an open and transparent manner. That is the proper way to convene a national policy forum.
Take the composition of the forum. It is Tsai Ing-wen's brainchild. Will it therefore be chaired by the DPP? One. Past national forums were presided over by the president. This elevated the status of the forums. It also linked the forum conclusions directly to the government. Will the president preside over this forum? If not, how will that affect its status? Two. If the president does not preside over this forum, will the president deliver the opening remarks? Three. Should the president and government officials attend in an unofficial capacity? Should they express policy views during the forum? Four. Will the guest list be one-sided? Five. Should groups such as the Sunflower Student Movement, anti-nuclear groups, Taiwan independence groups, and pro-reunification groups be invited?
We feel the conference should be a national level event with diverse representation. Therefore, any role for the president must be handled judiciously. Tsai Ing-wen must not be allowed to turn the forum into her presidential campaign rally. The public should perceive it as a national policy platform for the changes that may unfold in 2016. Tsai Ing-wen may insist on being the conference moderator. That need not be a deal-breaker. But the DPP has a record of attacking or evading national policy issues. If the DPP chairs the forum, then the forum's policy conclusions must be seen as representing the DPP and no one else.
The DPP may refuse to allow the president to preside over the forum. But the president and government officials can still state their policy views and take part in the debate. Forum attendees can attend in an unofficial capacity. But the government, political parties, and civic groups must be represented. In the past, party leaders often found it difficult to convene such debates. The public will surely expect Ma Ying-jeou to attend. They will expect Eric Chu and Tsai Ing-wen to personally participate in a policy debate. By the same token, the forum should not exclude the Sunflower Student Movement, anti-nuclear groups, Taiwan independence groups and others. These groups must be in attendance to ensure the integrity and diversity of the forum. Since the forum is being convened by the DPP, its allies must be allowed to attend.
Take the matter of the forum agenda. The situation may change in 2016. Therefore three major issues are unavoidable. One. Cross-Strait relations. For example, after 2016 should the government repudiate cross-Strait policies based on the 1992 consensus? Should it renew or repudiate the ECFA follow-up agreements? Should the "Taiwan independence party platform" be frozen, abolished, or retained? Such topics are taboo within the DPP. The views of the public should be aired during the forum. Two. The globalization of economic policy. Given globalization, should we rely on Beijing to take care of Taiwan's "Three Smalls and One Young" problem? Problems plague small and medium enterprises, middle and lower income families, citizens in central and southern Taiwan, and young people. Given the impact of globalization, how can we reform Taiwan's industrial structure? How can we ensure globalization-based cross-Strait coopetition? Given globalization, how can we reform Taiwan's energy policy? Globalization has exacerbated the wealth gap. Social justice must address this issue. Three. Amending the constitution. Does the DPP seek to amend the constitution? Does it seek to delete the preface, which reads, "In response to the need for national reunification"? Does it seek to change "one country, two areas" to "one nation on each side"? Does it seek to repudiate the "one China Constitution"? Could such a constitution be the basis for coopetition with the Mainland?
Does the DPP seek a constitutional amendment abolishing presidential elections? Does it seek to restore Legislative Yuan approval of premiership appointments? Does the DPP seek to implement "executive power track change" to avoid minority government impasses? Should the constitutional amendment process be divided into two stages, one pre-2016 and one post-2016? Most importantly, should Legislative Yuan "political consultations" continue?
No topic should be taboo. Not topic should be evaded. Participants must be determied to get to the bottom of things. All cards must be laid on the table. Nothing must be omitted. Only that would constitute an adequate response to potential changes in 2016. National identity, amendments to the constitution, elimination of the one China clause, energy policy, globalization, the 1992 consensus, ECFA, economic development, social justice, and other major issues must all be addressed. The public expects to hear the views of the DPP, the KMT, community representatives, policy experts, and academics. It expects the forum to offer concrete policy recommendations just as other forums have in the past.
Changes may be coming in 2016. People on Taiwan cannot bury their heads in the sand, ostrich fashion. They cannot behave like frogs being cooked alive. We expect the KMT and the DPP to hold a debate on the changes expected in 2106. They must have both the responsibility and the desire to attend such a national conference. We hope that community organizations will share the results of this conference with the public. Therefore the conference should split into small groups addressing specific issues. The conference as a whole should then discuss the findings of these small groups. Participants need not fear complex debates. They should only fear barriers to free expression, and evasion of what is truly important.
We hope no one will forcibly occupy the podium during this forum. This forum should enable a multifaceted debate about potential changes in the nation's circumstances in 2016.
2015-02-03 02:17:53 聯合報 社論