Monday, October 29, 2007

The Role of Hsieh Chih Wei in the Democratic Progressive Party

The Role of Hsieh Chih Wei in the Democratic Progressive Party
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 29, 2007

Whether the event is the Democratic Progressive Party's "Join the UN Torch Relay" or an election rally, the person guaranteed to make the biggest splash is Hsieh Chih-wei. His popularity exceeds even that of Chen Shui-bian, Frank Hsieh, and Su Tseng-chang.

Hsieh Chih-wei would be well-suited for the role of variety show host. He would do a terrific job of livening things up. He might sing Karaoke, or take the lead on the dance floor. Every guest would be sure to have a roaring good time. But Hsieh Chih-wei is not a variety show host. He is the Chief of the Government Information Office. He is the government's top spokesman.

As the government's number one mouthpiece, Hsieh Chih-wei fills a vital role within the Chen regime. When Chen Shui-bian attends a summit with an ally, and puts his foot in his mouth by asking Palau's president "Whom did you embrace in bed last night?", Hsieh Chih-wei's job is to break into an impromptu dance or rap song, drawing attention away from Chen's faux pas. But as Government Information Officer, Hsieh Chih-wei has another job. To provoke opposition party lawmakers to such fits of anger that they shout "Sit down! You sit down!" His job is to demonstrate how the executive branch "checks and balances" the legislative branch. He has done such a great job his colleague Shih Mao-ling gave Hsieh a big thumbs up.

And no wonder. In reference to Hsieh Chih-wei, former Central Election Committee Chairman Huang Shih-cheng said: "A person like this is no different from a monkey at the zoo pretending to be a government official."

When Hsieh Chih-wei crossed swords with NCC Chairman Su Yung-chin, he did not address legitimate issues such as the constitutionality of the NCC within the legal framework of the ROC. Instead he bullied Su over irrelevancies regarding transitional justice in a reunified Germany. When Hsieh Chih-wei responded to questions about the post office's illegal stamping of "Join the UN" slogans on personal correpsondence, he did not address the legitimacy of the policy or encroachments on the people's right to privacy. He trivialized the affair by inviting an American English teacher on Taiwan to discuss the matter of English usage over tea. What would Huang Shih-chen say watching such a thug in a position of power? Would he refer to Hsieh as a "mu hou er guan" ("a monkey in a suit") incapable of maintaining the illusion of humanity?

Is this really the image the Democratic Progressive Party wants to broadcast to the world? Older generation Democratic Progressive Party officials such as current premier Chang Chun-hsiung, confronted with a verbal confrontation between Hsieh Chih-wei and an opposition lawmaker, quietly urged Hsieh, "Don't argue any more. Go and sit down." Chang hoped to maintain an image of rationality for the ruling administration. Yet Frank Hsieh had nothing but praise for the controversial Hsieh Chih-wei at a public rally, referring to him as "an outstanding GIO Chief," and expressed concern that the Blue camp wanted to force Hsieh Chih-wei out of office. Does Frank Hsieh really not know that many voters hope Hsieh Chih-wei's simian antics will take Frank Hsieh down with him?

Ever since DPP legislator Lin Chung-mo gained fame by insulting Sisy Chen with sexist vulgarisms, the "Three Stooges" (Lin Chung-mo, Tsai Chi-fang, and Hou Shui-sheng) have become immensely popular within the Democratic Progressive Party, and simultaneously the focus of outside criticism. The role of the Three Stooges was originally to generate controversy concerning certain topics, to underscore the Democratic Progressive Party's "grass roots" nature. Their uncouth language and manners are nothing parents would want to inculcate in their own children. But the Three Stooges have come to fill a certain role in the party. When Chen Tang-shan referred to Singapore as "a nation the size of a piece of snot" and accused it of "fondling China's balls," he violated all norms of diplomatic etiquette. When Tsai Chi-fang accused Luo Wen-chia and his wife as "putting on a show" and "singing a duet," he ripped away the hypocritical mask of intraparty comradeship and ethics. Former GIO Chief Yao Wen-chi flaunted a supercilious "Trust me, I know what I'm doing" manner. This "evolved" into current GIO Chief Hsieh Chih-wei's simian antics. This process swiftly undermined any standards of ethics or decorum established over many long years.

The Democratic Progressive Party has undergone a transformation. It now belongs to the "Three Stooges," to "Hsieh Chih-wei," and their ilk. The character of the party has changed from "to know shame is courage," to "to know no shame is courage."

When the anti-corruption movement was in full swing, many citizens took to the streets, not for the Blue camp or the Green camp, not for reunification or for independence, but for the traditional Chinese virtues of "Propriety, Honor, Integrity, and Conscience." Alas, the Three Stooges and Hsieh Chih-wei have set a new tone for society. They hold such virtues in contempt. Taiwan has forsaken civilized rules of conduct, and the public has become accustomed to the political antics of Lin Chung-mo and Tsai Chi-fang. The term "LP" ("balls") has become an in word. Hsieh Chih-wei's impromptu performances of rap music are all the rage. Under the circumstances, "watching monkeys perform in a zoo" perfectly describes Taiwan's politics.

Society has degenerated to the point where all that matters is Wu Shu-chen's diamond ring from Tiffany, Chen Shui-bian's off-key rendition of "Ode to the Republic of China," or where to find a gourmet dish of abalone. What room is there for serious topics such as truth and justice, right and wrong, constitutionalism and the rule of law? Don't be deceived by the hoopla over the "Join the UN" campaign. The Democratic Progressive Party hopes that public's attitude toward the democratic process will be: "Is it really so serious?" Enter Hsieh Chih-wei. The function of officials like Hsieh Chih-wei is to transform serious issues of state into the antics of monkeys at a zoo.

2007.10.29 04:47 am











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