United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 3, 2015
Executive Summary: We call on Tsai Ing-wen to get off her high horse, and agree to take part in an election debate as soon as possible. That is the least she can do for democracy. She must realize that debates are not held on behalf of the candidates, but on behalf of the voters. Therefore as a possible victor in the upcoming election, she should remedy her own deficiencies in a timely manner.
Full Text Below:
The current presidential election represents unprecedented democratic backsliding. Early polls suggest that Tsai Ing-wen is a shoo-in. Election day is only 40 days away. Yet neither major party has held an election debate, within or without. The Tsai camp is using procedural objections to avoid any debate. But an election is not a shotgun wedding. Tsai Ing-wen may be adept at cultivating a positive media image for herself. But if the public is denied the opportunity to learn what her national policy is, how can they know where she will lead the country if elected?
The presidential election is a one-sided affair. The public wants “change". It looks forward to a change in ruling parties. The KMT, meanwhile, persists in infighting, leading to disarray. The public is apathetic. The KMT must swallow this bitter pill, and not blame others. But "politics is everybody's business". Democratic elections are not just about winning or losing. They are about policies and proposals. They must not be reduced to fundraising, campaigning, glad-handing, mudslinging, and meaningless theatrics unrelated to policy. People must understand the various parties' ideas and positions. Otherwise, elections will be devoid of content, and democracy will be deprived of its essence.
The DPP may argue that Tsai Ing-wen has already presented a five point program of "generational justice, government efficiency, legislative reform, transitional justice, and an end to partisan bickering". It may point to a number of white papers and claim that these reveal her determination. But lengthy policy papers drawn up by staffers and academics hardly tell us how Tsai Ing-wen intends to govern.
There are two reasons for this. Reason One. Tsai Ing-wen has been operating for years in the political opposition. All she had to do was engage in obstructionism. But if she is elected president, she must immediately switch to the role of governing party. That requires a totally different way of thinking. How will a political party accustomed to making trouble, transform itself into a responsible ruling party? That is something Tsai Ing-wen must tell voters. Reason Two. Tsai Ing-wen has issued many white papers. But making policy proclamations is easy. Implementing them is hard. Only close scrutiny will uncover the truth. Ma Ying-jeou promised "six three three". That promise came to naught. As we can see, untested political promises are nothing more than pretty slogans.
Going from the political opposition to the ruling party, means that one must cease obstructing the solution of problems, and begin facilitating their solution. This requires not merely a change in mindset, but also wisdom, ability, and skill. Therefore, the best way to verify whether a political party possesses such wisdom, ability, and skill, is policy debate. Tsai Ing-wen held positions under Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian. She has had over a decade of experience in politics. She has been preparing to rule for eight years. Her election prospects are bright. She ought to be eager to meet the challenges of an election debate, and demonstrate her skills. But lo and behold, she has insisted that only her hand-picked media entities may host the debate, and has rejected debates with other candidates. Whether her behavior is the result of arrogance or anxiety is hard to tell.
Take a look at the US presidential election, currently still in the party primary stage. Both major parties have already held a string of policy debates. Hillary Clinton leads in the Democratic Party. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump to everyone's surprise, leads in the Republican Party. But all are required to comply with democratic institutions and take part in the debates. On Taiwan meanwhile, the KMT set a negative precedent by replacing Hung Hsiu-chu at the eleventh hour. The DPP primaries shut out other candidates from the outset. The parties are now formally engaged in political struggle. Yet they cannot even arrange a decent political debate. Voters are being limited to voting blindly on the basis of surface impressions. As such, how do the major parties have the nerve to claim that the ROC is a democracy?
We are not concerned that Tsai Ing-wen is “phoning in” her campaign. We are concerned that as president, she will “phone in” her national policy. Voters on Taiwan do not care about her governing philosophy. They do not care whether she has solutions for Taiwan's problems. They are perfectly willing to deliver state authority into her hands. How much respect will she have for voters who are indifferent to ability, and have no desire to distinguish between good and bad?
The public is concerned about cross-Strait relations. But lest we forget, Tsai Ing-wen spent more time and effort explaining her position to the US government than to voters on Taiwan. She rejected the 1992 consensus, then refused to explain how she would get around the problem. Her “legislative reform” has nothing to do with increasing legislative efficiency, and everything to do with gaining a legislative majority for the DPP. On energy issues, she cannot even draw up a green energy pie. Her promises not to raise electricity rates are self-contradictory, and rife with populist demagoguery. She cannot explain how her "New Southern Policy" and rejection of the “Red Supply Chain” can possibly sustain Taiwan's industrial development, or underwrite the construction of 200,000 social housing units or provide for generational justice. She cannot explain how public condemnation alone can amend Taiwan's "Food Safety Law" and ensure food safety. A series of debates would provide answers to these questions, and allow voters to know just exactly what she has up her sleeve.
We call on Tsai Ing-wen to get off her high horse, and agree to take part in an election debate as soon as possible. That is the least she can do for democracy. She must realize that debates are not held on behalf of the candidates, but on behalf of the voters. Therefore as a possible victor in the upcoming election, she should remedy her own deficiencies in a timely manner.
聯合／蔡英文別矮化民主選舉的意義2015-12-03 01:49 聯合報 聯合報社論
認為蔡英文篤定當選下屆總統；但選舉只剩四十多天， 各黨內外竟連一場競選辯論都未曾辦過， 如今蔡陣營更以程序問題抵制總統辯論。選舉不是盲婚， 就算蔡英文擅於經營形象，但如果民眾不能確知其國政主張， 怎麼知道她當選後將如何領導國家。
另一方面，則是國民黨不斷內訌，自亂陣腳所致。選情低迷， 是國民黨必須吞下的苦果，怨不得他人。但從「政治是眾人之事」 的角度看，民主選舉不能只問勝負而不問政策主張， 更不能流於募款、拜票、跑攤、抹黑等膚淺交手， 而不在政策上進行實質的交鋒，讓民眾了解各黨的不同主張和傾向。 如果那樣的話，無異窄化了選舉的內涵，也掏空了民主的精髓。
啟動國會改革、落實轉型正義、終結政黨惡鬥」五大改革主軸， 並就不同議題提出過多項政策白皮書，這些應足以顯示她的決心。 然而，光憑這些幕僚和學者擬就的長篇政策論述， 要了解蔡英文未來的施政作為，是遠遠不夠的。
的立場，以杯葛為已足；然而一旦當選總統，她馬上必須切換為「 執政」的角色，這是完全不同的思考方式。一個習慣「鬧事」 的政黨，如何轉換為「當家者」，這是蔡英文必須告訴選民的事。 其二，蔡英文雖提出過多份政策白皮書，但政策的「宣示」容易，「 執行」則困難，這些都需要經過仔細檢驗，才知其虛實。 馬英九當年提出的「六三三」，如今落得一場空， 恰說明未經檢驗的政見只是包裝精美的「漂亮口號」罷了。
的態度調整；其間牽涉的，除了心態的差異，還包括智慧的厚度、 能力的高低和處理技術的嫺熟與否。因此，最佳的檢驗方式， 是透過政策辯論交鋒來切磋高下。 蔡英文在李登輝和陳水扁政府有十多年從政的經驗， 又有在野八年的練兵準備，加上她選情大好，照理說， 她原本應該很樂於迎接大選辯論的挑戰，一展自己的好身手；孰料， 她卻堅持以特定媒體主辦為由，而杯葛其他候選人的辯論安排。 這種表現，究竟是出於傲慢，還是心虛，令人難以猜測。
兩黨都已舉辦了多場政策辯論。無論是希拉蕊在民主黨獨占鰲頭， 或者地產大亨川普在共和黨爆冷領先， 都是透過辯論的民主機制逐漸浮現。反觀台灣，國民黨臨陣「換柱」 的惡例自不待言，民進黨的初選又何曾有過開放的競爭？ 而如今到了政黨正式角力的時刻， 若連幾場像樣的政見辯論會都辦不起來， 僅能讓選民各憑表面的印象分數盲目投票；那樣的話， 台灣還好意思宣稱自己是民主國家嗎？
她當選之後會不會躺著執政。原因是， 假使台灣選民毫不在乎她的執政理念， 不在乎她對台灣的困境有什麼看法與解方， 就願意將國家的權力全部交付到她手上；對於這樣毫無質疑能力、 無意辨別優劣的民眾，她會有多少尊重與珍惜？
蔡英文寧願花力氣去向美國政府報告和解釋她的立場， 卻不願意向國人坦白陳述她揚棄九二共識後的立足點何在； 在國會改革議題上，她追求的目標只是民進黨的席次過半， 而不是立法效能；在能源問題上，她畫出不可能的綠能大餅、 又許下不漲電價的矛盾承諾，十足民粹手法。在台灣財經困境上， 她如何在「新南向」與放棄「紅色供應鏈」 之間維持台灣產業發展不墜， 如何興建廿萬戶社會住宅而實現世代正義，如何不修《食安法》 而僅憑輿論譴責便能落實食品安全。種種疑問，如果有幾場辯論， 人們即可知道她的錦囊裡究竟有無妙計。
這是基本的民主素養。要知道，辯論並不是為了候選人而辦， 而是為了選民而辦，其結果， 應有助於鞭策可能的當選人及時調整並補強自己的不足。