Help the Green Camp Assess Tsai-Lin Government Successes and Failures
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 1, 2016
Executive Summary: Green Camp criticism of the Tsai government has intensified. Green camp members are even referring to Tsai Ing-wen as a “hun jun”, i.e., a “fatuous and self-indulgent ruler”. Taiwan independence elder Wu Li-pei is livid. He says that "If Lin Chuan does not step down, Tsai Ing-wen is done for". He echoed the sentiments of many green camp members. But would replacing Lin Chuan really cure what ails the Tsai government? That is far too naive.
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Green Camp criticism of the Tsai government has intensified. Green camp members are even referring to Tsai Ing-wen as a “hun jun”, i.e., a “fatuous and self-indulgent ruler”. Taiwan independence elder Wu Li-pei is livid. He says that "If Lin Chuan does not step down, Tsai Ing-wen is done for". He echoed the sentiments of many green camp members. But would replacing Lin Chuan really cure what ails the Tsai government? That is far too naive.
President Tsai has been in office 100 days. But no one is happy. Most people think she has departed from mainstream consensus. The blue camp accuses her of carrying out a political vendetta. The green camp disapproves of her "old, blue, male" cabinet appointments. Beijing is unhappy with her refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus. Everyone is displeased with her. The Tsai Lin government's response is either too slow or too self-contradictory. The new government's halo has already lost its luster. A government cannot please everyone. No government can stonewall indefinitely. That much is abundantly clear.
Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to take a different path than Chen Shui-bian. But the problem is, she cannot decide what path to take. As a result, she is encountering obstacles all along the way. Many green camp members wax nostalgic over the early days of Chen Shui-bian's rule. They want Tsai Ing-wen to revert to the old green camp path. They assume only that can restore the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's prestige. Chen Shui-bian's path has been proven a failure. Nevertheless it haunts many green camp members like an apparition. Even younger generation green camp members recall Chen Shui-bian's political trickery with fondness. It now remains to be seen whether Tsai Ing-wen possesses the vision and wisdom to change course. If she doesn't, then all she can do is follow meekly in Chen Shui-bian's footsteps, and lead Taiwan to an even greater disaster.
The first indicator is Lin Chuan. Will he become "Tang Fei the Second"? Taiwan independence elements are blasting Lin Chuan. But Tsai Ing-wen is unlikely to throw Lin Chuan to the wolves. At least not immediately. Lin Chuan is more like a partner to Tsai Ying-wen. Tang Fei was more a “guest” and “shield” to Chen Shui-bian. The relationships are quite different. Also, dumping Lin Chuan would probably leave Tsai Ing-wen without a hand to play. Her plight would be even more desperate. When Chen Shui-bian pushed "giant rock" Tang Fei out of his way, all his rhetoric about "a government for all the people", and "a new centrist path" fell by the wayside. Tsai Ing-wen is unlikely to make the same mistake.
The second indicator is whether Tsai can reconcile the differences between the “Tsai-Lin government” and a “DPP government”. Since taking office, Tsai Ing-wen has been struggling to maintain a relationship between the party and the government, but with little success. Differences between the party and the government remain and often lead to clashes. Tsai Ing-wen has given many younger people government jobs. But this has not eased frictions. In short, current Tsai government personnel appointments have not moved the machinery of state. They have failed to meet public expectations. Even if Tsai fails to replace Lin Chuan, she must appoint better people to the cabinet. Otherwise the tail will continue to wag the dog, and the Tsai government will continue to be hijacked by extremist forces.
The third indicator is Tsai Ing-wen's ability to reflect on her own path. The Lin Chuan cabinet has disappointed the public. But those whom the green camp wants to step down, include the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Chief of MAC. All of them are under the President's direct command. Is this a matter of politics, or a matter of decision-making ability? That has yet to be determined. In fact, during the her first 100 days, Tsai Ying-wen directly or indirectly intervened in affairs large and small. Her micro-management has led to confusion over authority and responsibility. Pressure groups have overreached and undermined the rule of law. On the surface, the government has resolved a whole host of problems. But endless complications will ensue, making it ever more difficult to implement fair policies. Tsai Ing-wen relied on pressure groups to seize power. She is now returning the favor. But if one's goal is a sound civil society, one cannot afford to shoot holes in the rule of law. Otherwise one is bound to fall short.
Wu Li-pei's fate will not be Tsai Ing-wen's fate. Tsai Ing-wen's fate will not be determined by whether Lin Chuan goes or stays. Just what sort of government do the green camp and Taiwan independence forces want? Even they cannot say. But careful review of the Tsai government's first 100 days, shows that "green camp ecumenism" is not the answer. If Tsai Ing-wen does not want her administration to go down the tubes, she had better be clear on who is leading her around by the nose.
2016-09-01 03:41 聯合報 聯合報社論