China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 23, 2015
Executive Summary: The presidential debate is about to begin. For the ruling and opposition parties, as well as ROC voters, this is a chance to reflect on the past and speculate about the future. Taiwan's “democratic civil war” is a long-term structural crisis that has gradually led to economic and social crisis. The two major parties should treat the series of three debates as an opportunity to transform their parties and the nation.
Full Text Below:
The presidential debate is about to begin. For the ruling and opposition parties, as well as ROC voters, this is a chance to reflect on the past and speculate about the future. Taiwan's “democratic civil war” is a long-term structural crisis that has gradually led to economic and social crisis. The two major parties should treat the series of three debates as an opportunity to transform their parties and the nation.
The ruling KMT faces an unprecedented crisis. Poll data suggests that the KMT may well break apart after the election. This is not mere alarmism. Before the debate, the KMT must think clearly. After ceding control of the central government and the legislature, how can it transform itself into a party in touch with the grassroots? The DPP, meanwhile, can hardly wallow in its victory, on the assumption that voters will grant a ruling DPP carte blanche. It too must think clearly before the debate. How can a DPP president and DPP controlled legislature transform the party into one with integrity and ability? The DPP must determine its core values before the debate, explain them to the people, enabling the people to cast votes they will not regret.
The evolution of the KMT and DPP as parties is easy to discern. The KMT's biggest problem is that it is out of touch with the grassroots and with public opinion. The DPP is better able to gauge public opinion, because it is in closer touch with the grassroots, hence better able to rehabilitate itself and reclaim power. But comparisons between its manner of behavior when it was out of power and when it was in power between 2000 and 2008 invariably raise questions about both its integrity and its ability.
Both parties must consider their weaknesses and shortcomings. They must address their weaknesses, and tranform their shortcomings into virtues. Only then can they raise the quality of their parties. If the can do so, this will be good for Taiwan. It will help strengthen its political parties, and establish higher standards for democracy.
Take the KMT. Ma Ying-jeou governed for two-terms. He focused too much on higher level issues. He had high ideals. One cannot these were wrong. They included rational hikes in gasoline prices and electricity rates, the prudent reduction of reliance on nuclear energy, and a capital gains tax to ensure tax justice. His point of departure was correct. He even delivered on many of his promises. He secured visa-free and visa on arrival treatment for 158 countries and regions. He enabled Taipei and Beijing to sign 23 agreements. He enabled millions of Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan annually. He enabled Taipei and Tokyo to sign a Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement. Taiwan fishermen could then fish in waters twice the area of Taiwan. His achievements were numerous and visible.
But his ideals and achievements were not grounded in public sentiment. As a result their implementation provoked overwhelming public anger. The entire government was oblivious to the public reaction. They failed to feel the peoples' pain. Their response was sluggish and often off the mark. They misjudged the situation, again and again. These accumulated grievances eventually resulted in Humpty Dumpty having a great fall. The KMT seven year record can be summed up simply as: failed implementation leading to failed policy.
Can the KMT engage in humble soul-searching, followed by thorough transformation? If it can, then despite the double defeat in 2016, it can still make a comeback. One could say that an opposition party unable to implement policy, needs to be in even closer touch with grassroots opinion than the party in power. Following the election, the KMT must focus on better understanding and responding to public opinion. It must transform the KMT into a party in touch with the grassroots.
The DPP offers a contrast to the KMT. The KMT is an immovable mountain. The DPP is a flowing river. It moves negotiates its way around obstacles, it penetrates crevices, it flows around rocks, it dissolves any mud it encounters. Whenever public opinion shifts, the DPP immediately responds. Sometimes it goes further, and creates and controls public opinion. Public opinion becomes the fertilizer than nourishes the party. The DPP also knows how to direct public opinion, how to turn it into a weapon to undermine ruling party prestige. In principle at least, the DPP is a party in close touch with grassroots sentiment.
But this DPP strength is also its weakness. Just because its methods are successful, does not mean its policies are correct. One may rely on this method when one is out of power. But once one is in power, one must address policy. At such a time, the two most important criteria are integrity and ability.
On these points, the DPP record has been anything but reassuring. Take integrity. Chen Shui-bian was in power for eight years. The memory of his endemic corruption has faded over time. The younger generation has no clear impression. But Chen's troops are making a triumphant return to the capital. Tsai Ing-wen's administration contains numerous Chen Shui-bian regime staffers. When the DPP was out of power, it blasted the KMT mercilessly for corruption. But it made excuses for the DPP's own flagrant corruption. The people cannot help being concerned. If the DPP returns to power, will Chen Shui-bian era corruption resurface?
Consider the matter of ability. When it was out of power, the DPP demonstrated its ability to check the KMT. But such a destructive force is not the same a constructive force. The final test for any ruling party, is performance. The DPP must perform. It must demonstrate the ability to govern. All democracies currently have trouble governing. Does the DPP have a special trick up its sleeve? Can it avoid the crises of governance plaguing all democracies? If so, people are eager to hear about it.
Remoteness from the grassroots is the Achilles' Heel of the KMT. A woeful lack of integrity and ability is the Achilles Heel of the DPP. We hope that during the debates, Eric Chu and Tsai Ing-wen think clearly, and speak plainly. They must not allow their own weaknesses to drag Taiwan down with them.
都是反省過去、尋找未來的一次考驗。 台灣長期民主內戰造成的政治結構危機已逐漸擴散成為經濟與社會危 機，兩黨應該把這3場辯論當做自我調整、帶動國家調整的契機。
判斷選後國民黨將走向「碎片化」，並非聳動浮誇之論。 國民黨辯論展開前就應該先思考清楚， 交出中央執政與國會多數黨地位後，未來應如何自我改造， 讓自己成為一個「接地氣」的政黨？ 民進黨也不能沉溺在勝利的氛圍裡過度驕傲， 認為選民會交給民進黨一張空白執政授權書，同樣應在辯論前想好， 總統與國會雙勝後應如何成為廉能的政黨？ 把選後大局的核心定位想清楚後再上辯論場，向人民報告清楚， 讓人民有一個不會後悔的投票準據。
國民黨最大的問題是不接地氣，與民意脫節； 民進黨比較能掌握民意，能接地氣故能引領風潮， 盈蓄重新執政的實力，然而檢視其在野作風與2000年到2008 年的執政表現，卻也始終讓人民在「廉」與「能」 這兩個項目打上問號。
陳義極高、理念也不能說不對，不管是油電價格合理化的主張、 對於核能政策基於能源安全採取「穩健減核」的態度、 提出證所稅要落實租稅正義，出發點都沒錯，甚至論起政績， 不論是為台灣爭取到158個免簽與落地簽的國家與地區、 兩岸簽署的23項協議、一年破千萬的觀光人次、 台日漁業協議為台灣漁民爭取到2個台灣大的作業海域， 這林林總總，建樹也斑斑可見。
在執行上惹來鋪天蓋地的民怒。而對於民意的反應， 整個政府更呈現不食人間煙火、不知民間疾苦的遲鈍迂腐， 屢屢拿捏失準、誤判情勢，日復一日累積民怨的結果， 終至今天積重難返、敗局難挽之境。可以這麼總結國民黨過去7年多 的表現：方法失敗，導致路線失敗。
敗，也仍有再得民意、東山再起的機會。甚至可以這麼說， 在野黨由於沒有政策主導權，比當執政黨會更需要接地氣。 就此而言，國民黨在選後的再造重心， 應是如何增加其掌握民意的精確度與回應民意的靈活度， 讓國民黨成為一個接地氣的政黨。
民進黨就是一灣靈活的水。遇澗則過、見隙即穿、遇石則繞、 見泥即化。民意如何變形，民進黨就能立刻跟著變形， 甚至更進一步掀風帶潮，透過對民意的精確掌握與精確導引， 讓民意一方面成為茁壯政黨的養分， 另一方面又能驅使民意成為連環冰箭，挫傷執政黨的威信。 由此來論，民進黨可說是地氣十足的政黨。
不代表民進黨路線正確。在野成功可以只靠「方法」，但執政成功， 終究要回到路線，而其中最重要的兩個檢驗標準，就是「廉」與「 能」。
就廉而論，陳水扁執政8年的貪腐陰霾雖然年輕世代記憶不深， 但檢視民進黨「班師回朝」的團隊， 和陳水扁時代的團隊重疊度不低，加以民進黨在野的期間， 對國民黨涉弊人士的攻擊火力從來強勇， 但對民進黨自身的涉弊人士的護短更是梟悍。這些表現， 都讓人不能不憂心，民進黨執政， 會不會再陷陳水扁時代的貪腐糾結？
但這樣的破壞力不等於建設力，檢驗執政黨的最終標準，就是政績， 民進黨要端得出政績，就得端出治國的能力。 但放諸舉世的民主國家都陷入治理困境， 民進黨有什麼特別的壓箱寶， 能獨樹一幟的掙脫民主政府近來的失能危機。國人都引頸期待。