Monday, November 26, 2007

Oppose the Anti-Democratic Tide on Taiwan

Oppose the Anti-Democratic Tide on Taiwan
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
November 26, 2007

Taipei City and other Pan Blue administered counties and municipalities intend to use a two stage balloting procedure. Last night, Chen Shui-bian responded that he was seriously considering four possibilities suggested by his advisors. These include: One, declaring martial law. Two, declaring the results of any plebiscites from counties and cities that use the two stage balloting procedure invalid. Three, firing all election officials in Pan Blue administered counties and municipalities and reappointing new ones. Four, postponing the election until an agreement has been reached. Assuming Chen Shui-bian was not merely running off at the mouth, we appeal to all individuals of conscience on Taiwan. Do not allow a solitary individual to destroy the ROC's democracy. We must not allow the ROC, which is already on the road to democracy, to backslide into authoritarianism and martial law.

The sad fact is an anti-democratic tide is rising on Taiwan. It already threatens the ROC's political framework. Some counties and cities intend to use a two stage balloting procedure. They are protesting the Central Election Commitee's violation of laws mandating secret balloting and administrative neutrality. To everyones' astonishment, the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of the Interior, the Central Election Committee, and the Ministry of Justice convened a press conference, threatening to punish any polling station workers who participate in the two stage balloting process. The ruling regime even threatened to press criminal charges against them and take away their pensions. It is resorting to unbelievably thuggish means to increase the number of plebiscite ballots cast. It is threatening criminal penalties and administrative punishments against these civil servants, who have a sworn duty to remain scrupulously neutral. The methods the ruling regime are using to impose its flagrantly biased balloting procedure upon local governments are barbaric. Martial law was rescinded twenty years ago. The DPP boasts of its love for the people. Yet it reveals its contempt for the people, its ostensible masters, by flagrantly manipulating the balloting procedure to ensure the results it wants. How can discriminating Individuals not be distressed?

Several months ago the Democratic Progressive Party, attempting to rationalize its opposition to Central Election Committee reform, obstructed the conduct of official business in the Legislature by means of physical violence. DPP legislators even locked the doors of the Legislature, then physically attacked opposition legislators. Whether the proposed Pan Blue bill for the Central Election Committee reform was ideal can be subjected to rational debate. But it absolutely may not be obstructed by resort to physical violence. In retrospect, the DPP's thuggish, anti-democratic behavior, was to ensure that the Central Election Committee would remain the ruling DPP's regime's reelection committee. The Central Election Committee is supposed to be objective and neutral. It is supposed to ensure free and fair elections, and thereby maintaining the core values of democracy. But Central Election Committee members controlled by today's Democratic Progressive Party, are willing to sell their souls, to betray their consciences, to be stooges for a specific political party. Not one of them understands the value of democracy. The Democratic Progressive Party is the political party which has destroyed the ROC's democracy. It is no exaggeration to say that these members of the Central Election Committee are the executioners of free and fair elections.

The ruling party has violated democratic principles by manipulating the Central Election Committee, in order to promote its Plebiscite to Join the UN. Over the past several months, the Democratic Progressive Party has illegally diverted government funds into promoting its "Join the UN" campaign. It has coerced the media into cooperating. It has resorted to a wide range of executive orders to coerce the public into signing or supporting its Petition to Join the UN. It has used official office hours to hold private meetings. It has stamped or pasted political slogans on private citizens' letters and packages, and on government property. It has filled government webpages with Join the UN propaganda. It has committed all sorts of violations of administrative neutrality. It has violated its obligation to behave like public servants, with a sense of propriety. Its sins truly are too many to enumerate.

The ruling party has turned its back on democratic ideals. The opposition parties and media have not been remiss. They have pointed out the ruling party's wrongdoings and harshly criticized it. But the ruling party has reacted to such criticisms and accusations as if they were Red Guards. Whenever any member of the public faults the Plebiscite to Join the UN for its violations of administrative neutrality or electoral neutrality, the ruling party immediately unleashes its official government media attack dogs upon them. The first thing they invariably do is change the subject. The very next thing they do is accuse any media that uphold media freedom as "pro reunification." They beatify themselves, depicting themselves as nativist defenders of the sacred soil of Taiwan. They use such simplistic dichotomies as cover for the violence they have done to democratic values in the name of the Plebiscite to Join the UN. The balloting procedure affects only the polling station process. Yet the ruling DPP's talking heads began ranting that any ballots cast by means of the two stage voting process would be declared invalid, that any unrest must be put down, and that it may be necessary to impose martial law. What sort of insane logic is this?

Opposition party criticisms regarding violations of administrative neutrality and electoral neutrality are reduced to struggles over reunification vs. independence, love for Taiwan vs. lack of love for Taiwan, nativist sentiment vs. non-nativist or even anti-nativist sentiment. As a consequence, the ruling DPP's thuggish and arbitrary behavior, becomes a necessary evil for these self-styled "lovers of Taiwan." Any criticisms leveled against them, are turned into nitpicking by those who are "selling out Taiwan." These "public servants" have sundered, divided, and hoodwinked their nominal bosses, "We, the People." Frankly, the political atmosphere on Taiwan reminds one of the Chinese Communist Party's "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution."

Chen Shui-bian is not averse to declaring martial law, to nullifying the results of any two stage balloting procedures, to postponing the election, or resorting to other forms of intimidation. Leave aside the fact that Chen Shui-bian once swore he "absolutely, positively would not declare martial law within the duration of his term. Everyone on Taiwan has the right to ask: Is this the way a democratically elected leader ought to be talking? Is this the way a political party that claims to believe in democracy ought to be thinking? This year is the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law. The DPP has long attempted to claim exclusive credit for the lifting of martial law. Now their own party chairman is publicly threatening to impose martial law upon citizens of the Republic of China. Why? Merely because certain counties and municipalities refused to knuckle under to the ruling regime's will regarding balloting procedures. Even authoritarian regimes don't have the chutzpah to impose martial law on such a flimsy pretext. Yet Chen Shui-bian blurted it right out. Even more shockingly, Chen Shui-bian is planning to declare the result of a democratically held election invalid. In other words, after voters of 2/3 of Taiwan's counties and municipalities exercise their right to vote, Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party intend to declare their votes invalid. To paraphrase an infamous DPP political ad, "no matter how barbaric one might be," and no matter how little the voters' ballots might figure in one's hearts, such madness is intolerable.

Our hearts are heavy leveling such harsh criticisms against the ruling party. Taiwan is our home, our only home. However painful, we must point out that any behavior that violates the principle of democracy for the sake of election victories, inflicts harm upon Taiwan. Democratic Progressive Party political figures have long mouthed slogans such as: "Elections are fleeting, democracy is forever" or "[So and so] may lose, but Taiwan must not lose." Today, their hypocrisy grates on the ears. We issue a stern warning to individuals of conscience within the DPP, if any. Whether the DPP will lose next year's election we don't know. But if you refuse to speak out, yet again, Taiwan's democracy surely will lose. We issue a stern warning to all politicians. ROC citizens' eyes are wide open. You may undermine Taiwan's democracy by resorting to deception. But the people will not allow you to win the upcoming elections. Finally, we appeal to everyone on Taiwan, treasure and defend our democratic ideals. Courageously protest, spurn, and resist any anti-democratic behavior. Only by defending democracy can we prevail against the reactionary currents of Taiwan's own Cultural Revolution.

中國時報  2007.11.26









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