Can Tsai Ing-wen Prove that the DPP is not Anti-Business?
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 7, 2015
Executive Summary: DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen is the DPP nominee for the 2016
presidential election. When Tsai met with the National Federation of
Industries she solemnly declared, "The DPP will not be anti-business."
The media immediate decided this was a major news item. This is strange
indeed. Why must a presidential candidate in a democracy solemnly
declare that she is "not anti-business"? Why would the media perceive
this as newsworthy? Is this not a classic case of “Methinks thou dost
protest too much”?
Full Text Below:
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen is the DPP nominee for the 2016 presidential election. When Tsai met with the National Federation of Industries she solemnly declared, "The DPP will not be anti-business." The media immediate decided this was a major news item. This is strange indeed. Why must a presidential candidate in a democracy solemnly declare that she is "not anti-business"? Why would the media perceive this as newsworthy? Is this not a classic case of “Methinks thou dost protest too much”?
We do not question Tsai Ing-wen's "not anti-business" stance. Business and economic development is Taiwan's lifeblood. The people's livelihood depends on it. It is their hope for the future. Tsai Ing-wen majored in trade law. She cannot be unaware of this. Alas, knowing is not the same as doing. Tsai Ing-wen panders to anti-nuclear groups. She panders to opponents of thermal power. When she wants to discredit BOT projects, she denounces it as government business collusion. When she meets with business groups however, she tries to curry favor with the business community. But can her word be trusted? If Tsai Ing-wen wants to prove that the DPP is not anti-business, she must do at least four things.
First. If Tsai Ing-wen is not anti-business, she must lead the fight against a different Tsai Ing-wen, a leading inciter of anti-business sentiment. During the 2012 presidential election, entrepreneurs criticized Tsai for not accepting the 1992 consensus. They expressed concern that hostile cross-Strait relations would harm Taiwan's economic development. Tsai immediately lashed back. She demanded to know, "Are the interests of conglomerates the same as the interests of most people?" Tsai Ing-wen is the chairperson of the largest opposition party on Taiwan. She is also a presidential candidate. Yet she divided Taiwan into two hostile camps, "conglomerates" and "people". Over the next three years, Taiwan society experienced a gradual rise in anti-business sentiment.
Second. Tsai Ing-wen still refuses to recognize the 1992 consensus. Not recognizing the 1992 consensus will make maintaining the status quo and peaceful cross-Strait development difficult. The loss of peaceful cross-strait development will deliver an intolerable blow to Taiwan's economy. When visiting the National Federation of Industries, Tsai told industry and commerce elders that “The cross-Strait card is not a panacea for Taiwan's ills. The KMT government spends far too much time on cross-Strait issues. We must put the focus back on internal economic problems and social concerns."
When Tsai Ing-wen insists she is "not anti-business", that is the greatest irony of all. She is attempting to divide cross-Strait relations and economics into two independent and unrelated categories. This is a serious mistake. Cross-Strait relations and the economy are hardly unrelated. They go hand in glove. If cross-Strait relations are good, Taiwan's economy will not necessarily be good. But if cross-Strait relations are bad, Taiwan's economy will surely be bad. Can Tsai Ing-wen tell us how she intends to maintain peaceful cross-Strait exchanges while refusing to recognize the 1992 Consensus? If not, it makes no difference whether Tsai Ing-wen is anti-business. Once Tsai Ing-wen is in power, she will probably create an anti-business environment.
Third. Even if cross-Strait relations and economics could be divided into two independent systems, Tsai Ing-wen has other anti-business demons to purge. The Democratic Progressive Party, under Tsai Ing-wen's leadership, betrays an anti-business proclivity and scant regard for economic development. It does this from the legislature at the central level, to counties and municipalities at the local level.
For example, electrical power is the key to economic development, Without a stable supply of electricity, all talk of economic development is hollow. At the national level, the DPP forced the government to halt construction on the Number 4 Nuclear Power Plan. It opposes continued operation of the Number 1, 2, and 3 Nuclear Power Plants. It is bent on ending nuclear power generation. If nuclear power generation is unacceptable, what about thermal power? The DPP rules six central Taiwan counties and municipalities. Under the strong leadership of Taichung and Yunlin, it is determined to prohibit the burning of bituminous coal and petroleum coke. The affected Taichung power plant accounts for 16.5% of the island's total electricity generation. The Yunlin LINMARK thermal plant accounts for 5.3%. This will shake the foundations of the country. What about "green power"? Last month, the Penghu Wind Energy Company in DPP ruled Penghu went belly up even before it could go into operation. Green power is not easy to come by.
The DPP is anti-nuclear and anti-thermal. Green energy, meanwhile, is not available. As Liang Chi-yuan, Chairman of the Chung Hua Economic Studies Institute put it, the DPP “wants the electricity but it doesn't want the plant”. This sort of energy policy offers only blind opposition, but no constructive solutions. How can the DPP convince people that the DPP is "not anti-business"?
Fourth. The question before us is not merely whether Tsai Ing-wen is personally anti-business. Even if she is not anti-business, how can a non anti-business party chairman lead an anti-business party? This is Tsai's bigger problem. Ever since the National Federation of Industries raised concerns, Tsai Ing-wen's only reply has been, "We guarantee we will be the most communicative government in history", and that "once we are in power, we will increase consultation and discussion with business". Such vague answers are no answers at all. Tsai Ing-wen's assurance that she is "not anti-business" and real life practice remain poles apart.
The election campaign is heating up. The political parties and candidates' campaign promises must now be subjected to opponent challenges and voter scrutiny. Do Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP want to prove they are not anti-business? If so, they need to do more than talk.