Crisis of Confidence in Tsai Government
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 16, 2016
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen's new government is not yet beyond repair. But it must enage in thorough soul-searching. It must see the danger signs. It must see where its path leads. Tsai Ing-wen's new government is wading into deep waters. It is treading on thin ice. If it fails to take proper measures, it will lose the public trust, it will lose control of the nation. The people will suffer and in time will cast the new government aside.
Full Text Below:
Trust can reduce social costs within a nation, by facilitating cooperative relationships between people. Trust is not easy to establish. When it has been lost, it is often difficult to re-establish. Trust is a form of social capital. If people lose trust in the government, the government loses its mandate to lead the people. This is definitely an uneasy situation for any society.
In contrast to past administrations, the new government had four long months to prepare. Yet only one month after assuming power, the public has reached a reluctant conclusion. This new administration, dominated by a single party, one that enjoys “total government”, is an utterly clueless Rube Goldberg assembly. Tsai Ing-wen's new government now faces a challenge -- not from opposition political parties, but from the general public. This crisis of confidence is the result of structural contradictions and duplicity, of majoritarian arrogance and the betrayal of social justice, of haste and callousness that have led to loose cannon policy formulation.
This crisis of confidence in the new government manifests itself in a number of ways, and on many occasions. These include cross-Strait relations and relations between the ruling and opposition parties during legislative interpolation. They include the new government's distorted representations of history and national identity. This crisis shows no signs of subsiding, but only of worsening. Confidence in the new government's economic and trade strategy, and whether it can protect Taiwan's interests, is also rapidly diminishing.
DPP leaders at the city mayor and county chief level may enjoy popular support. But governing the nation is not the same as governing cities and counties. Local leaders may resort to emotional appeals to whitewash poor governance. They can pass the buck to the central government. But the central government must deal with international realpolitik, where the order of the say is “survival of the fittest”. Foreign competitors are not about to lend it a helping hand. Fail while enjoying “total government” and one must answer for it. Domestically, one will have no one to pass the buck to. Internationally, passing the buck to foreigners will be like shouting into the wind.
Governing a nation can be divided into two parts. One involves international strategic capability. One involves domestic governance. The moment the new government took office, it decided on several strategies. Culturally and educationally, it adopted an "Original Inhabitants History" strategy. It refused to correct fallacies in public school history texts. It distanced itself from Chinese culture. It embarked on wholesale de-Sinicization. Premier Lin Chuan even parroted the "Some comfort women volunteered" line promulgated by “History for Subjects of the Japanese Emperor".
In foreign trade, the new government proposes to "say goodbye to dependence on a single market". It proposes a "New Southern Strategy" that will weaken cross-Strait trade. In foreign policy, it hopes to join Shinzo Abe's "alliance of values", highlighting Taiwan's "anti-China" status.
The impact of the new government's strategy of cultural de-Sinicization, economic weakening of cross-Strait trade, and military alliances against the Mainland, is no longer limited to CCP decision-makers. It now includes the Mainland public. It now undermines their belief in DPP sincerity. This crisis of confidence is more terrifying than anything else imagineable. It will make the Taiwan Affairs Office increasingly wary about future concessions to the DPP government.
In terms of domestic governance, only one month after taking office, the new government is considering restarting the Number One Nuclear Power Plant. Tsai Ing-wen put it clearly. She said "We will not force people to choose between power shortages and nuclear power generation”. This constitutes a public admission that the DPP's "nuclear free homeland” pipe dream has bowed to reality. During her election campaign, Tsai Ing-wen vowed not to reduce the number of legal holidays below seven. Now that the DPP is in power however, it is preparing to cut them. As a result labor groups are protesting in front of the Executive Yuan. Nuclear energy issues and labor issues amount to a crisis of confidence, not just for the DPP administration and the legislative caucus. They amount to a crisis of confidence in the DPP among green camp voters.
The DPP treats the affairs of the nation as child's play. The list of examples is endless. The new Minister of Defense minister shipped 40,000 artillery shells to Taiping Island, raising alarms with the United States. The Ministry of Defense immediately covered for him, and said the shells were sent to Dongsha and Nansha instead. This 70-year-old minister told young people “When war comes, you must bravely march onto the battlefield and sacrifice your lives for the nation with a smile on your face”. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs flagrantly violated and conscience and her oath of office. She refused to say that Cong Zi Niao Reef is a reef, but instead claimed that its legal status is undetermined. On matters of national defense and foreign affairs, key officials have already seriously undermined trust in the new government's judgement and honesty.
Tsai Ing-wen's “vow of humility” still echoes in our ears. Yet she has in already given former President Ma Ying-jeou the cold shoulder. She refused to allow him go to Hong Kong to deliver a speech. Instead she granted former DPP president Chen Shui-bian medical parole. She characterized Chen Shui-bian's political fundraising dinner as a "healing”. She even thanked him for “his willingness to sit in a box seat”. If this is what the DPP considers "transitional justice", how the KMT and DPP possibly trust each other?
The crisis of confidence facing Tsai Ing-wen's new government is not confined to any single issue. It involves a chain of connected issues. It is the result of de-Sinicization, of intentionally weakened links to the Mainland, of opposing the Mainland while pretending to “maintain the status quo”. It is the result of meeting the demands of the opposition, while neglecting the demands of one's office. The new government's “transitional justice” rationalizes its failings while concealing its opportunism. Its internal contradictions have led to a crisis of confidence in the new government.
Tsai Ing-wen's new government is not yet beyond repair. But it must enage in thorough soul-searching. It must see the danger signs. It must see where its path leads. Tsai Ing-wen's new government is wading into deep waters. It is treading on thin ice. If it fails to take proper measures, it will lose the public trust, it will lose control of the nation. The people will suffer and in time will cast the new government aside.
2016年06月16日 04:10 主筆室