DPP Must Jettison Its Opposition Party Mindset and Reclaim Its Progressive Values
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 24, 2016
Executive Summary: The DPP is a political party that is 30 years old, that now enjoys “total rule”. Nevertheless it remains frozen in the stage of a perpetual opposition party. It governs the nation by inciting protests and waging attack campaigns. It has taken people back to the Chen Shui-bian era of eight years ago. The DPP is a political party that has turned its back on progressive values. It is a 30-year-old political party that is not content to rule responsibly. How can the people possibly be happy under such a party?
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As an editorial published by the China Times on the 28th noted, the Democratic Progressive Party is now 30 years old. Despite the fact that it now enjoys “total rule”, it has experienced unprecedented setbacks. The leadership of the DPP must engage in soul-searching, and submit to the judgment of people as a whole. Has the self-styled “Democratic Progressive Party” in fact promoted democracy? Has it in fact been progressive? Has it in fact made Taiwan more democratic, and society more progressive?
The DPP was preparing to hold the first anniversary celebration since assuming “total rule”. But lo and behold, Typhoon Meiji chose to strike Taiwan that very day. The festivities had to be canceled. But even more embarrassingly, two pro-green polling organizations chose this very day to announce their latest findings. A poll conducted by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation found that Tsai Ying-wen's approval rating had plummeted 25% since taking office. Yau Yung-lung, the person in charge of the poll, described it as an "avalanche". Another pro-Tsai organization, the Taiwan Think Tank, revealed that Tsai's approval rating had fallen below 50%. This meant that six months after its sweeping victory last autumn, the festivities are already over. The party has been denied even the briefest of honeymoon periods.
So what happened? The DPP does not lack governing experience. Nor does it lack governing ideals and a governing team. During the election campaign, it made glowing promises to the public. Many young people were moved to participate in the political process. Now that it has seized power, why is it behaving like a complete novice?
What's worse, the DPP has reneged on its long reiterated promises of “humility” and “reconciliation”. The result has been cross-Strait crises, ruling vs. opposition party clashes, and wave after wave of public protests by civic groups and the general public. Tsai Ing-wen's favorite catch phrase is "problem-solving". But so far, not one problem has been solved. Instead, her administration has created one problem after another. All that the people have experienced is a Taiwan that is regressing and reverting to poverty.
This is a political party that has just turned 30. Yet it seems unaccustomed to acting like an adult. It already enjoys “total rule”. Yet it clings to the mindset of a perpetual opposition party. It clings to the posture of an opposition party. It relentlessly finds fault, seeks enemies, and deals with policy disputes by launching protest movements. It deals with the annuity controversy by attacking military personnel, civil servants, and public school teachers. It deals the dispute over legal holidays by clashing with labor. It deals with the Kuomintang's party assets by conducting a political purge. A few short months later, the entire nation finds itself in chaos and conflict.
Externally, Tsai Ing-wen's campaign pledge to "maintain the status quo" has instead "changed the status quo", because she has stubbornly refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus. As a result cross-Strait relations are frozen. Mainland tourists have ceased arriving. Mainland students have fallen in number. Once smooth diplomatic relations are suddenly riddled with difficulties. Opportunities to participate in international activities have dwindled. Three years ago, Ma Ying-jeou's diplomatic strategy enabled him to attend the ICAO conference as a “chairman” and “VIP”. Tsai Ing-wen mocked him, calling him a “poodle”. Now Tsai Ing-wen cannot even obtain an invitation to the event. She knows how to flap her lips and curse Beijing. But does she know how to solve problems? No she does not. She has not solved a single problem. On the contrary, she has made solutions totally impossible.
Eight years ago, the “Southern Strategy” was impracticable. It has now been trotted out once more, with the prefix “New”. It has once again come to prominence. It has once again become the panacea that will solve all problems. In fact the Mainland implemented its own "Southern Strategy" some time ago. Its political and economic measures have already been in place for some time. The Mainland has enjoyed far greater resources and strength than Taiwan for some time. Will the ASEAN nations suddenly side with Taiwan merely because they hear Tsai Ing-wen utter the words, “New Southern Strategy”? We will find out soon enough.
Close long-term relations with political pressure groups has unquestionably enabled the ruling administration to “solve” some problems, but only by abusing its executive authority. For example, motivated by political considerations, it has gotten all criminal charges against 126 Sunflower Student Movement members who occupied the Executive Yuan dropped. It has bought off striking China Airlines workers. It subsidized protesting national highway system toll collectors by dipping into the national treasury. The new government's magic formula for problem solving is, “Trouble-makers will be rewarded, the taxpayers will foot the bill”. In short, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”. What about the rule of law? Why, that's not important. After all, political considerations are all that matter. So what if rewarding those who make trouble encourages more of the same? So what if it leads to universal protests and administrative exhaustion?
The DPP is a political party that is 30 years old, that now enjoys “total rule”. Nevertheless it remains frozen in the stage of a perpetual opposition party. It governs the nation by inciting protests and waging attack campaigns. It has taken people back to the Chen Shui-bian era of eight years ago. The DPP is a political party that has turned its back on progressive values. It is a 30-year-old political party that is not content to rule responsibly. How can the people possibly be happy under such a party?