United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 25, 2016
Executive Summary: The DPP government has taken over General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC). It has scored a major victory. But before it could even celebrate, TransAsia Airways' announcement that it was going out of business plunged it into a black hole. Executive Yuan incompetence has people shaking their heads and sighing in dismay. These two developments offer us a striking contrast. The DPP's lust for power vastly exceeds its ability to govern. The DPP may be able to seize power like an octopus, but it governs like a blind swordsman.
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The DPP government has taken over General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC). It has scored a major victory. But before it could even celebrate, TransAsia Airways' announcement that it was going out of business plunged it into a black hole. Executive Yuan incompetence has people shaking their heads and sighing in dismay. These two developments offer us a striking contrast. The DPP's lust for power vastly exceeds its ability to govern. The DPP may be able to seize power like an octopus, but it governs like a blind swordsman.
Looking ahead, these two incidents hardly represent the the limits of Taiwan's social chaos. For example, labor protests over working hours continue unabated. Public hearings on the importation of food products from Japan's nuclear disaster areas drag on. Unfortunately another earthquake just struck Fukushima. Differences within the DPP over same-sex marriage remain unresolved. The administration and the legislature each have their own ideas on the matter. A number of green camp legislators are indifferent to public opinion. They would ram the bill through the legislature and precipitate social chaos. Some problems were the result of recklessness, others the result of expedience, and still others were the result of reformist zeal. The problem is that some of them violate the DPP's core values, while others ignore the democratic process. It is only natural that such actions would provoke a backlash.
In the DPP's struggle over the GACC, the winner takes all. That determination has already been made. The ruling administration resorted to all manner of devices to bring the GACC under its control. It offered inducements to dilute and divide the opposition. Politicians, businessmen, and culturati surrendered en masse, forcing Liu Chao-hsuan to withdraw. On such an occasion, Tsai Ing-wen can of course declare victory. But is relying on power to drive one's opponents into a corner, and leaving not quarter, really the kind of victory President Tsai wants?
The DPP may want to look at the matter from another angle. What sort of impression has this victory left in the minds of the people? When people look at how this battle was fought, they are bound to have questions. First, Tsai Ing-wen has created over 600 new members where there was only 200. This may be a shrewd move. But as the saying goes, “Men of principle seek wealth only through honorable means”. Second, the DPP has long despised Chinese culture. Liu Sh-ifang considers Chinese yo-yos and calligraphy Chinese culture, and would slash the budget for the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission in response. So why did the DPP fight a major battle to seize control of the GACC in the first place? For the sake of culture? Which culture? Third, in recent years the GACC has morphed into a civic organization. The DPP government acquired enormous power from the change in ruling parties. But was it really necessary for it to abuse this power to take over the GACC? Furthermore, did President Tsai really need to lead the charge? Fourth, party and government sources say that gaining control over the GACC would transform it into a cross-Strait communication channel. President Tsai refuses to take the 1992 Consensus superhighway, yet would wend her way down the GACC footpath in order to connect with the Mainland? Who's kidding whom?
The Presidential Office seized control of GACC with unseemly haste. The Executive Yuan dealt with the TransAsia Airways company closing with complete cluelessness. Both actions showed that the ruling administration's lust for power far exceeds its ability to govern. An airline announcing that it is closing up shop is a serious matter, not just for passengers and employees, but for financial institutions and the stock market. Yet government agencies remained utterly clueless, and passed the buck onto the Civil Aviation Authority. Nor was that all. The next day the Lin Chuan cabinet misspoke and flip-flopped repeatedly. It announced that the airline would undergo "reorganization". Then just as abruptly, it announced that the government would "take it over completely". Spokesman Hsu Kuo-jung was even slapped in the face by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which said China Airlines would only take two routes, and would not take over completely. These developments show that although the Tsai government is in power, it has no clue how to govern, let alone solve the problems of the nation and society.
The question one must ask is this. During ruling party changes, government agencies replace only the top one-tenth of all political appointees. The rest of the administrative structure remains unchanged. Why has the TransAsia Airways incident caused the entire government to malfunction? There are roughly three reasons. First, the Tsai government has relentlessly concentrated power at the top. All major policy decisions require her personal approval. This prevents middle-level officials from exercising their initiative and professional judgment. Second, the DPP is characterized by “political colors above all”. It considers only ideological orientation and ignores right and wrong. As a result, middle and lower echelon officials and officials who are not "our people" dare not express their views. Third, no professional information and advice is available to inform its decision-making. Naturally, like a blind swordsman, it can only hack away at the air.
Tsai and members of her administration harbor a delusion. They think the purpose of governing is to implement reforms. They are mistaken. A ruling administration that cannot even ensure political stability, that cannot even uphold the rule of law and ensure economic security, has no business running about shouting “Reform! Reform!” as political cover.