United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 11, 2016
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen is about to complete the final mile on her road to the presidency. But has the pendulum of public opinion on Taiwan reached its limit? Is it about to swing in the opposite direction? Tsai Ing-wen's public support is based on her supporters' high expectations and false expectations, as outlined above. Following the election, will the pendulum of public opinion swing in the opposite direction? The outcome will reveal whether Ko Wen-je's predictions were accurate.
Full Text Below:
Tsai Ing-wen is about to complete the final mile on her road to the presidency. But has the pendulum of public opinion on Taiwan reached its limit? Is it about to swing in the opposite direction?
Tsai Ing-wen undoubtedly stands at the pinnacle of current mainstream public opinion. Her election prospects are excellent. But as she rides this wave of public approval on her final mile, the pendulum of public opinion on Taiwan appears to be reaching its high point, and is about to swing in the opposite direction.
Ko Wen-je predicts that "Once Tsai Ing-wen is elected president, the biggest danger will be excessively high expectations, such that no matter what she does, people will be disappointed." Is He predicting that the pendulum of public opinion is about to swing the other way?
Tsai Ing-wen's problem is not so much high expectations, as it is false expectations. On the eve of Tsai Ing-wen's imminent victory, public doubts about Tsai's ability to fulfill the role of Republic of China president are on the rise. Tsai Ing-wen is oblivious to the danger she faces. But more importantly, Tsai Ing-wen's supporters continue to deceive themselves to bolster their faith. They have no desire to ask themselves whether their expectations are too high or simply false.
The event that elevated Tsai Ing-wen to her current lofty perch was the Sunflower Student Movement. Just before the Sunflower Student Movement erupted, Tsai Ing-wen was dispatching Lin Chuan to the Mainland to open channels of communication. The DPP was even contemplating freezing the Taiwan independence party platform. This shows that Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP can change their cross-Strait policy. But at this very moment, the Sunflower Student Movement yanked Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP back to their original position. The Sunflower Student Movement began by denouncing the STA as "black box operations". It then used opposition to the STA, MTA, and FEPZ to incite anti-Mainland sentiment and demand Closed Door political and economic policies. These issues now remain a complete muddle. Did the Sunflower Student Movement make these political and economic demands to legitimize their occupation of the Legislative Yuan? Or did their occupation of the Legislative Yuan legitimize their political and economic demands?
This Closed Door, anti-Mainland, anti-globalization thinking argues that Taiwan's predicament is entirely due to Ma Ying-jeou's “pandering to China, selling out Taiwan” cross-Strait policy. It argues that provided the public on Taiwan hates China, opposes China, opposes the KMT, opposes Ma, and opposes Ma's cross-Strait policy, Taiwan will be saved. The Sunflower Student Movement occupied the legislature to justify these demands, and uses these demands to justify their occupation legislature. Public opinion was swayed by the Sunflower Student Movement. Tsai Ing-wen responded. She reverted to rhetoric such as "Taiwan independence is a natural component of the younger generation." Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP, and the Sunflower Student Movement, each have expectations of the other. Are such expectations too high? Or just plain false?
Tsai Ing-wen may refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus. But she can hardly deny that cross-Strait relations is the key to Taiwan's political and economic welfare. Cross-Strait relations may not be the whole of Taiwan's political and economic infrastructure. But it does constitute its core. Cross-Strait instability means utter chaos. Tsai Ing-wen has been bolstered by the younger generation, for whom "Taiwan independence is a natural component", and by "mainstream public opinion". She continues however, to shift her positions. She speaks of "maintaining the status quo", "promoting the constitutional framework of the Republic of China", "not ruling out a Tsai Xi summit”, “joining the TPP", "acknowledging that a meeting was held in 1992”, “seeking common ground while shelving differences” and "giving the highest priority to the STA and MTA in the legislature”. These already depart from the expectations of the Sunflower Student Movement. The Sunflower Student Movement and Tsai Ing-wen have expectations of each other. Are these high expectations? Or false expectations?
The Sunflower Student Movement categorically repudiated Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait policy in order to incite public anger. Yet Tsai Ing-wen can "unconditionally accept" Ma's cross-Strait policy -- lock, stock and barrel. How odd is that? On top of which, the DPP leadership persists in deluding itself, by mischaracterizing false expectations as “high expectations”. Sunflower Student Movement leaders, including Huang Kuo-chang, Lin Chang-tso, Chen Wei-ting and Liu Chiao-an, have gradually emerged and shown their faces. Should these people be regarded as “pioneers of democracy”, or “political showmen”? Clearly they too are part of the problem of false expectations being disingenuosly spun as “high expectations”.
The Sunflower Student Movement's main proposition is that “All the evil that has befallen Taiwan is due to Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait policy errors”. The general election is just around the corner. Current "mainstream public opinion" is the product of Sunflower Student Movement rabble-rousing. Has the public given the Sunflower Student Movement's political and economic ideas any further thought? Election victory is now in sight. Has the public engaged in any self-introspection? Has it come to the realization that its expectations are not “too high”, but simply false?
This is one reason why the pendulum of public opinion may change directions just before the election. After all, for people to admit that their expectations about the Sunflower Student Movement were not just too high, but just plain false, can't be easy. Tsai Ing-wen rode a wave of public support generated by the Sunflower Student Movement. Can she fulfill the expectations of "half the public”? That will be her biggest test.
Tsai Ing-wen's public support is based on her supporters' high expectations and false expectations, as outlined above. Following the election, will the pendulum of public opinion swing in the opposite direction? The outcome will reveal whether Ko Wen-je's predictions were accurate.
這使得她的選情看好。但是， 當她乘著這股民意走完大選的最後一哩， 彷彿台灣民意的鐘擺也擺到了最後一吋；走至此刻， 民意的鐘擺也可能到了即將回頭的時候。
期望錯誤」的問題。在蔡英文可能勝選的前夕， 社會上對蔡英文能否勝任此階段中華民國總統的疑慮， 其實也在上升。情勢發展到今天， 不只是蔡英文自己對當前的風險不知警惕與反省， 更重要的是蔡英文的支持者也以一種自欺的心態來維持心中的信念， 而不去思考「期望太高」及「期望錯誤」的問題。
蔡英文派林全登陸建立聯通管道，民進黨內也出現凍結《台獨黨綱》 運作的聲音。這些， 皆顯示蔡英文與民進黨的兩岸操作有轉型的空間；但就在此際， 一場太陽花事件卻把蔡英文及民進黨拉回原點。 太陽花學運以抗議服貿協議「黑箱作業」啟動，而以反對服貿、 貨貿及自由經濟示範區的反中鎖國政經路線收場；但事至今日， 沒有人說得清楚： 太陽花究竟是因這些政經訴求而神聖化了他們占據立法院的動作？ 或因占據立法院的實際動作，而神聖化了這些政經主張？
台灣的困局完全是因於馬英九傾中賣台的兩岸政策。只要仇中、 反中、反國民黨、反馬，及反馬英九的兩岸政策，台灣就能得救。 太陽花以占領立法院來正當化這樣的訴求， 又以這樣的訴求來正當化占領立法院的行動。一時之間， 社會民意也受到太陽花的感染，而蔡英文則回報以「 台獨是年輕世代的天然成分」。 太陽花與民進黨及蔡英文之間的相互期望、互相拉抬，究竟是「 期望太高」或「期望錯誤」？
但她不能否認兩岸關係是台灣政經架構的關鍵指針； 兩岸關係縱非台灣政經治理之全部，卻是主要的脊幹架構。 兩岸不穩，大局動盪。如今，當蔡英文挾著「 台獨是年輕世代天然成分」的「主流民意」鵲起， 她卻不斷地修正拋出「維持現狀」、「中華民國憲政體制推動論」、 「不排除蔡習會」、「加入TPP」、「九二事實／求同存異」， 及「將以服貿協議、貨貿協議為立法院新會期最優先法案」 等政治訴求，這已不同於太陽花當時的期望。 太陽花與蔡英文的相互期望，究竟是「期望太高」或「期望錯誤」？
蔡英文卻可能以「概括承受」馬英九的兩岸政策主體框架收場， 這何其弔詭！莫說在上層政策上這極可能是一場「期望太高」、「 期望錯誤」的錯解，連太陽花鋒頭人物包括黃國昌、林昶佐、 陳為廷及劉喬安等也逐漸露出其完整面貌； 社會公眾應將這些人物視為民主先鋒或政治演員，顯然也有「 期望太高」或「期望錯誤」的問題。
如今大選投票在即，這股被太陽花激起的「主流民意」， 是否曾對太陽花的政經主張及人物品類有過反省？ 而整個選情既顯示勝利在望，這種民意又豈會自我反省， 承認自己犯了「期望太高／期望錯誤」？
要民眾承認自己誤陷於這場「太陽花的期望」，不是容易之事。 蔡英文顯然是因太陽花風潮掀起的「一半民意」而扶搖直上； 她能不能實現這「一半人民」的期望，這是最大的檢驗。