Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cross-Strait Relations in the Wake of Lai Hsing-yuan's Appointment to Mainland Affairs Council Chairman

Cross-Strait Relations in the Wake of Lai Hsing-yuan's Appointment to Mainland Affairs Council Chairman
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, China)
A Translation
April 30, 2008

Lai Hsing-yuan will definitely head up the Mainland Affairs Council. Leave aside what political considerations were behind Ma Ying-jeou's move. Leave aside the controversy and backlash this appointment has elicited within the Blue camp. To focus exclusively on Lai Hsing-yuan herself is pointless. After all, MAC and SEF personnel have already been officially appointed. Future cross-strait policy will be handled by this group. The question now ought to be how to make this rag tag group into a well-organized team.

In other words, the next cause for concern, is not relations between Lai Hsing-yuan and Chiang Pin-kung, or relations between Lai Hsing-yuan and the rest of the Ma administration. The next cause for concern is relations between the MAC and the SEF, the future of cross-strait policy, the division of labor, and the modus operanda. More broadly speaking, this includes the modus operanda for the presidential palace, the National Security Council, the Executive Yuan, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Transportation, and other relevant ministries. How will they coordinate their efforts to promote cross-strait policy? From this point of view, to focus exclusively on Lai Hsing-yuan or to deliberately overestimate her role is unnecessary.

Frankly, the MAC and the SEF's two-track system design was a product of the special "cross-strait" situation. One set policy, the other carried it out. In cross-strait interactions they played the roles of "good cop" and "bad cop." This inevitably led to conflicts between the two. But in the end, they did enable cross-strait dialogue to take place, including the Koo-Wang during the early 90s. It was only the controversy over the Two States Theory and the subsequent ruling party change that mothballed this cross-straits mechanism for nearly 10 years. Ten years is a long time. People have passed away. Expertise has been lost and cross-strait mutual trust has been undermined. When we say we now want to "restart" cross-strait exchanges, we are not exaggerating.

But today's cross-strait situation is completely different from the way it was 10 years ago. MAC and SEF personnel have all been replaced. It would be impossible to replicate the decision-making process in place a decade ago. It makes no difference if we are comparing Chiang Pin-kung today to Koo Chen-fu yesterday, or even Lai Hsing-yuan today to Huang Kun-hui yesterday. Everything is different. Since it is so different, what should the cross-strait policy-making and implementation process be? That is the question Lai Hsing-yuan and Chiang Pin-kung will have to answer.

Some people are worried that having Lai Hsing-yuan at the head of the Mainland Affairs Council may affect the timetable for direct flights and mainland tourism, or even destroy the ongoing process of cross-strait reconciliation. The Taiwan stock exchange (TAIEX) plummeted for an entire day. Many political observers worry that Lai Hsing-yuan's EQ is too low. They worry that her pro-green stance will drag the entire Ma administration down. But is Lai Hsing-yuan that powerful? Based on interviews with the media, Lai Hsing-yuan is already on the same page as the Ma Hsiao team. She said she now agrees with Ma's "One China, Different Interpretations" premise. She said she approved of opening Taiwan to mainland tourism, to weekend charter flights, and to allowing the free exchange of NTD with RMB. These provisions are ready for implementation. They are already in full swing. She is confident they can be achieved.

As for raising the ceiling on mainland investments beyond the current 40 percent, recognizing mainland diplomas, she said she had reservations about them unless comprehensive plans were first drawn up. As we look at these policy statements, we can't see any big differences between Lai and Ma Ying-jeou's campaign platform.

The KMT's real cross-strait policy challenge is not that Lai Hsing-yuan will hijack the Ma Hsiao team's policy, but that the Blue camp can pull together and avoid having a carriage with too many horses pulling in too many directions. For example, the outgoing administration has yet to hand over power to the incoming administration. The new cross-strait exchange mechanism has yet to be established. Chiang Pin-kung, who has yet to be inaugurated as chairman of the SEF, went to the mainland to thank Taiwan businesspeople for their support. Former Party Chairman Lien Chan also led a delegation to Beijing to attend a Lien-Hu Summit. Current Party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung lead a delegation that took part in a KMT-CCP Forum, If cross-strait relations can allow these Blue camp elders to fight over the spotlight, while the decision makers who must assume political responsibility are caught in a dilemma, then hasn't all hell broken loose? Frankly Lai Hsing-yuan is not the only person who must face the music. So must soon to be inaugurated President Ma.

How Beijing views Lai Hsing-yuan's appointment will also be worth noting. We await the consequences of Ma Ying-jeou's decision to appoint Green camp fighter Lai Hsing-yuan as cross-strait decision-maker. It is clear that Ma Ying-jeou is interested in uniting the Blue and Green camps behind his cross-strait policy. He represents the will of over 7 million Blue camp voters. But he does not want to ignore the concerns of 5 million voters. If Beijing cannot see this, if it cools cross-strait relations, then it is not seeing the bigger picture.

中國時報  2008.04.30








Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On Ma Ying-jeou's Second Wave of Cabinet Appointments

On Ma Ying-jeou's Second Wave of Cabinet Appointments
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, China)
A Translation
April 29, 2008

The Ma administration has arrived. The Liu cabinet has announced its second wave of cabinet appointments. As we examine the roster for the new cabinet, we notice several characteristics: Plenty of PhDs. Plenty of school principals. Plenty of women. A record high number of women. Ma has unquestionably come through on his pledge to form a cabinet consisting of one-fourth women. His financial and economics consultants are old hands who can ensure a running start. Legislators, county magistrates, and mayors have not been appointed, in keeping with his promise to the voters. But these are all surface matters. More importantly, Ma Ying-jeou has revealed his political character. For certain positions, including several plagued by controversy over the past eight years, he made several risky appointments. How they will turn out remains to be seen.

Many people see Ma Ying-jeou as a moderate. But based on his cabinet appointments, it is obvious this "model student" has a rebellious side. During his first term as Taipei mayor, he appointed people who had constantly engaged in street protests. He appointed a labour movement leader head of the Bureau of Labour, an incendiary social critic head of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, and a young student movement leader head of the Bureau of Civil Affairs. This time around Ma Ying-jeou has appointed public service lawyers who fought the government on behalf of the underprivileged. He appointed Wang Ching-feng, who went fought public prosecutors and police investigators over the 3/19 Shooting Incident, as Minister of Justice. By appointing all these social activists he is effectively colliding with the system, head on. Wang Ju-hsuan, who has no love for the KMT, has been appointed Chairman of the Council of Labor Affairs. Even Wang herself is probably wondering whether Ma wasn't crazy to give her the nod.

He has also appointed little-known leaders of parents groups and educational reform groups to his cabinet. The former president of National Chengchi University Cheng Jiu-Chen has been appointed Minister of Education. Chen Jiu-cheng is low-keyed by nature. He was labeled pro-Green because he wanted to eliminate partisan school songs. In fact he was merely a liberal academic. During the authoritarian era he traveled in "party outsider" political circles only because National Chengchi University disseminated his liberal concepts. During the DPP era he did not travel in official circles, nor did he participate in the Ministry of Education's noisy campaigns. He confined his commentary to civic fora in the capacity of a scholar. Cheng Jui-chen must familiarize himself with primary and secondary educational practices, and find practical solutions to controversial educational reform problems that have arisen over the past few years.

His second wave of cabinet appointments was even more radical. Ma Ying-jeou unexpectedly appointed Taiwan Solidarity Union legislator Lai Hsing-yuan Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, taking future premier Liu Chao-hsuan totally by surprise. Lai Hsing-yuan is a disciple of former President Lee Teng-hui. She was his aide when the KMT was still in office. For the past eight years the Taiwan Solidarity Union's cross-strait policy has been at loggerheads with the KMT's. Ma Ying-jeou was elected because a clear majority support and anticipate the opening of cross-straits exchanges. Lai Hsing-yuan says she shares Ma Ying-jeou's views. She says she agrees with "One China, Different Interpretations." She says she supports "No Reunification, No Independence, and No War." But her differences with Ma are far from trivial. After all, even Chen Shui-bian is nominally in agreement with Ma and Lai. Chen Shui-bian opposed the 1992 Consensus but did not oppose One China, Different Interpretations. Chen Shui-bian dug in his heels, ostensibly because Beijing wasn't allowing Taipei to have its own interpretation. The result was eight years of standoff and stagnation,

If Lai Hsing-yuan takes office, she will be required to resume cross-strait talks in June, and begin weekend direct charter flights in July. Is she really on the same page as Ma Ying-jeou? She blasted the KMT for helping fruit farmers sell their produce to the mainland. How does she feel about the Council of Agriculture completely changing its tune and subsidizing the sale of fruits from eight counties and cities to the mainland? Will she stay the course? Will she expand its scope? Even more importantly, the heart of the Ma administration's effort to boost Taiwan's economy is cross-strait policy. The Mainland Affairs Council is responsible for the liberalization of cross-strait policy, which impacts upon the Central Bank, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Council of Agriculture, even the Sports Commission. If Lai Hsing-yuan disagrees with administration policy, how will the Ma administration respond? If Lai Hsing-yuan agrees, how will she deal with the negative response from her former colleagues in the Legislative Yuan?

Ma Ying-jeou recruited Lai from the Taiwan Solidarity Union to create a greater consensus, to accommodate the feelings of the 5 million voters who didn't vote for him. This is laudable. But he must not forget the over 7 million voters who expect his administration to implement sound policies enabling Taiwan to return to normal as soon as possible. The new cabinet has many positions suitable for Lai Hsing-yuan. Why must she head the Mainland Affairs Council? Ma Ying-jeou made a risky appointment. We can only hope that he understands those risks. He must not force society to pay the price for unsuitable cabinet appointments. The new cabinet already has many positions whose sole purpose is to provide jobs for party cadres. Hopefully the new Premier will be an Premier for all the people, and not just a Premier for the ruling party,

The Government is supposed to serve the people. Its work is never done. The Chen Shui-bian regime filled government posts based on political considerations, and forced the entire nation to suffer the consequences. Once Ma's new cabinet appointments are complete, we are willing to give it our blessing. But we hope that the newly-appointed Premier will understand our concerns and consider the welfare of all the people, and that it will set aside politics and focus on policy.

中國時報  2008.04.29

  馬政府到位!劉內閣二波人事公布,綜觀新閣名單,有幾個特色:博士多、校長多、女性更是創下歷史新高的多,完全達到馬英九選前、選後希望女性佔內閣四分之 一的宣示;財經小內閣則由老臣壓陣,確保立刻上手;立委與縣市長都未入閣,兌現重視選民的承諾。不過,這些特點都還是浮面的,更深沉的是,馬英九嶄露了他 的政治性格,在特定部會、尤其是過去八年爭議性大的部會,祭出險招,其成與敗格外值得觀察。

 很多人認為馬英九素性溫和,但從他的用人, 不難看出這位政壇「模範生」骨子裡,藏都藏不了的叛逆性。就像他首任台北市長任內,找了專在街頭搞抗爭的工運人士出任勞工局長、寫文章火辣辣批判社會政治 現象的作家出任文化局長、還找一個年輕的學運分子出任民政局長。這一回,馬英九起用律師出身、為弱勢發聲槓上政府、為調查三一九案槓上檢警調的王清峰出任 法務部長,直接撞擊這個封閉系統;同樣是律師,活躍於社會團體,卻對國民黨沒太多好感的王如玄出任勞委會主委,連王如玄都懷疑自己會點頭是不是「瘋了」?

  此外,還有家長團體、教改團體其實都不大認識的前政大校長鄭瑞城出任教育部長,鄭瑞城生性低調,因為他要改掉「黨校」的校歌,被校內部分人士標籤化為「親 綠」。但實際上,他只是一個單純的自由派學者,威權時代沒見他奔走於政治圈為黨外發言,只在政大傳遞他的自由派理念;民進黨時代他也沒汲汲於官場,或大聲 疾呼和爭議百出的教育部吵架,他還是以學者身分在民間論壇提出諍言。鄭瑞城的挑戰,除了他必須盡快熟悉中小學教育的實務外,就是怎麼在制度面上讓過去幾年 的教改爭議獲得合理解決。

 更大膽的不止於此,第二波人事公布,馬英九出人意表地找上前台聯不分區立委賴幸媛出任陸委會主委,第一時間讓 準閣揆劉兆玄都感錯愕。賴幸媛系出前總統李登輝門下,國民黨執政時期就是李幕僚,但無可諱言,過去八年來,台聯的兩岸政策確實與國民黨格格不入,馬英九當 選很大部分原因在於支持者對兩岸開放有期待,賴幸媛固然聲稱和馬英九的理念相同,也同意「一中各表」,都主張不統不獨不武以台灣利益為上,但在這個大原則 大方向下,可討論的就多了。馬、賴的共識又何嘗不是扁的主張呢?扁所反對的是「九二共識」,可沒反對「一中各表」,陳水扁堅持的是因為對岸不讓我們自己表 述,就這麼吵八年,兩岸關係停滯不前。

 賴幸媛上任後,立即要面對六月兩會復談、七月周末包機直航,她是否全盤接受?她曾經嚴詞痛批國民 黨協助農民水果登陸,面對農委會已經改弦更張要公款補助八縣市水果登陸,是否繼續或擴大辦理?更重要的,馬政府提振台灣經濟的核心,就是兩岸政策,陸委會 是各項開放措施主管機關包括:中央銀行、交通部、財政部、經濟部、農委會、金管會、甚至體委會能否開放的關鍵,如果賴幸媛有不同見解,馬政府該如何自處? 如果賴幸媛沒有不同見解,她個人赴立法院備詢,面對舊日同僚的朝野立委們冷嘲熱諷,又該如何自處?

 馬英九向台聯借將,為凝聚更大的社會 共識,照顧其他五百多萬票民眾的感情,確實值得肯定,但不要忘了,七百多萬選票期待馬政府的是「政策考量」,讓台灣在最短時間內重新上路,新閣有多少職務 都適合賴幸媛,何以非要她出掌陸委會?馬英九既出險招,只能期望馬政府做好風險管控,不要讓社會再為一個不適合的人事安排而付出代價。就像新內閣中仍有擺 明為了疏散黨工幹部的職務,但盼新任首長到位後,調整心態,扮演好稱職的全民首長,而非一黨之首長。


Monday, April 28, 2008

The DPP's Dilemma: Whether to Return to the Centrist Path?

The DPP's Dilemma: Whether to Return to the Centrist Path?
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, China)
A Translation
April 28, 2008

Chen Shih-meng openly declared his support for Koo Kuan-min as DPP Chairman. This finally generated a few sparks in a relentlessly dull DPP Party Chairman Election. Chen Shih-meng openly challenged elements within the DPP who advocated the adoption of a more centrist path. Chen maintained that this would never redeem the DPP, and might even lead to everyone abandoning the DPP. Suddenly the struggle over the chairmanship of the DPP, had become a struggle between a "new centrist path" and opposition to a new centrist path. Leave aside for the moment whether this was actually the case. At least the DPP's options were finally on the table.

The current Party Chairman Election is atypical for the DPP. It is the first Party Chairman Election after the DPP's three major electoral defeats. It is one in which the Four Princes of the DPP are conspicuous by their absence. Factional rivalry is also at an all-time low. Not one of the candidates for chairman -- Koo and the two Tsais, belongs to the party's central power structure. Perhaps this is why the confrontation between the three, and the process by which the victor will emerge, are assuming forms unprecedented for the DPP.

The media has been comparing Koo and the two Tsais. Trong Tsai is viewed as a machine politician who depends upon the top down mobilization of party members and manipulation of party factions. Koo Kuan-min is viewed as the voice of Deep Green fundamentalism. Tsai Ying-wen is viewed as a centrist reformer. Each of the candidates represents one aspect of what the DPP stands for. Machine voters and factional voters have long been a problem for DPP party members and grass roots supporters. The ideological differences between Deep Green and Pale Green factions have long been part of the DPP's ideological spectrum. The DPP's post election reform, just so happens to touch upon these differences. And by sheer coincidence, each faction just happens to have a spokesman.

As a party that has suffered repeated defeats, DPP leaders are wracked with anxiety. In this, they are no different from other defeated parties in democratic nations. The DPP's anxiety takes two forms. One ascribes the party's defeat to problems with the current path. It calls for thoroughgoing path change. The other is just the opposite. It claims the party has been losing elections because it failed to adhere to its current path, therefore must increase its commitment to its current path. Many advocates of reform within the Democratic Progressive Party will be pinning their hopes on Tsai Ing-wen. They represent the first group. Chen Shih-meng has nominated Koo Kuan-min, and is openly blasting the "centrist path." They represent the second group. The different forms their anxieties take reflect the differences in their political paths.

The DPP's current plight can, to some extent, be compared to the former plight of the British Labor Party. Under the impact of Conservative Party Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's "Thatcher Revolution," the Labor Party experienced repeated setbacks. It also underwent internal struggles over the party's political path. The Labor Party's nomination process at the time used a form of "intra-party democracy." This meant party hardliners who were adept at mobilization gained the upper hand, from beginning to end. But the candidates fielded by these Labour Party fundamentalists were consistently defeated in national elections by the Conservative Party. The result was a decade in the political wilderness. Only when Tony Blair adopted a "Third Way" did the Labour Party return to political office. The story of the British Labor Party provides an object lesson for the still wavering DPP.

Perhaps it was because the three candidates for party chairman just happened to represent different faces of the DPP. Therefore whoever prevails will reflect DPP members' expectations about what kind of political party they wish to become. Whether they wish to remain mired in the swamp of machine politics and party factions, unable to extricate themselves. Whether the DPP should become a Deep Green political party. Whether the DPP should proceed down a new, broader, "centrist path." Put simply, the results of the party chairman election will decide whether the DPP will be a party that represents only party members, or a party that represents all people on Taiwan.

Because of this, we are happy to see Chen Shih-meng put the Centrist Path controversy on the bargaining table. At least this will allow the DPP to focus on the reasons for its defeat. After all, to argue about the extent of Chen Shui-bian's responsibility is a waste of valuable time and energy. So is arguing about the merits of the Blues Excluded clause. Should the DPP change its current party platform? What course of action meets with the expectations of the 5 million voters who cast their ballots for Hsieh? Perhaps those are the most serious issues facing the DPP.

中國時報  2008.04.28





 一九八 ○年代的英國工黨,部分程度上正可以拿來與民進黨目前的處境相對照。那時節在保守黨柴契爾首相旋風的衝擊下,工黨面臨連番的敗選,內部自然也出現了路線上的鬥爭。當時工黨的提名採取「黨內民主」的形式,這使得黨內動員性強的強硬派一路占上風,但這批代表工黨基本教義路線的候選人,在全國大選中卻被保守黨一路壓著打,結果硬是屈居十幾年的在野黨,直到布萊爾採取向中間調整的「第三條路」,才再度掌握執政權。英國工黨的故事,對目前還擺盪在要不要調整路線的民進黨,有沒有任何啟示呢?



Friday, April 25, 2008

The New Administration's Diplomatic Challenges

The New Administration's Diplomatic Challenges
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 25, 2008

Although Washington is not allowing Ma Ying-jeou to visit the United States, it is sending a higher-ranking envoy than usual to his inauguration. On the one hand this defers to international realpolitik. One the other hand it expresses goodwill towards the new administration. The international community also welcomes the imminent return to rational and pragmatic diplomacy. The new administration's first challenge will be to revamp the ROC's diplomatic strategy. It must defend the nation's sovereignty, uphold its dignity, ensure its survival, and provide for its future development.

When the outcome of the presidential election was announced, the international community breathed a collective sigh of relief, and focused its attention on cross-strait reconciliation. Long ago planned but long delayed exchanges may soon take place. A new dawn is breaking on once troubled cross-strait relations. The atmosphere of growing optimism has even led to hopes for a diplomatic truce.

Such expectations are unrealistic and must not form the basis for diplomatic strategy. Beijing may display unprecedentes flexibility by allowing Vice President-elect Vincent Siew participate in the Boao Forum and an historic Hu Siew Summit. But such flexibility will probably not extend to the diplomatic arena. The CCP has long maintained distinct internal and external policies. It may treat compatriots on Taiwan more gently, but it is unrealisic to expect the CCP to accept the Republic of China's sovereignty in the international arena. The mainland China Ministry of Foreign Affairs has long maintained a hardline position regarding Taiwan. The mainland is currently experiencing a surge of nationalist sentiment reminiscent of the Boxer Rebellion. Under such circumstances the mainland authorities will be under pressure not to give way.

Moreover, given the mainland's economic rise, international developments have benefited the mainland authorities. They believe time is on their side. They want to avoid driving the public on Taiwan toward independence. Nevertheless they must provide incentives for the comparatively moderate Kuomintang government. Only then can the KMT influence the public on Taiwan. But how far Beijing is prepared to relax its attitude toward Taiwan, in what areas, and in what manner, remains unclear. Whatever it gives, it can take away. Therefore it is not something one can depend upon. We must not harbor any illusions. Otherwise we may harm the ROC's interests.

The ROC's diplomatic plight is the result of the disparity between its strength and the mainland's, and the CCP's insistence on playing a zero-sum game. Being weaker, we must make increase our strength and accumulate bargaining chips. Only then can we defend our sovereignty and ensure a modicum of breathing space in the international arena. Unfortunately the outgoing DPP's diplomatic efforts have been a complete waste. They have provided Chen Shui-bian with photo-ops and opportunities for electioneering, but little else. The ruling DPP has frittered away precious diplomatic capital accumulated through long years of hard work. Its Taiwan independence provocations have depleted the reserves of sympathy the international community once felt for the ROC, and undermined Taipei's once close relationship with Washington. Ma Ying-jeou is inheriting a foreign policy debacle. He must rebuild foreign relations from scratch. Although Taipei/Washington relations can be quickly rebuilt, relations with other nations will need considerably more effort. The unprecedented appointment of Latin American expert Francisco Ou as Minister of Foreign Affairs will return professionalism to diplomacy. It will also help manage crises that have arisen in our relations with allies in Latin America, our diplomatic stronghold.

The mainland's foreign policies are not under our control. Therefore one cannot expect major breakthroughs merely because our ruling administration and foreign policies have changed. But at least our diplomacy can get back on track. At least we can do what we ought to do, and not do what we ought not to do. At least we can begin giving priority to our long-term interests, adopting the most advantageous strategies for safeguarding the ROC's sovereignty, ensuring our survival, and providing for future development. At least the new administration will restore the dignity of professional diplomats, and allow our foreign policy to reflect the aspirations of 23 million Chinese on Taiwan.

In fact, the Republic of China's greatest asset is its values. We have relations with fewer countries than the mainland. We have even fewer votes in the United Nations. But the ROC has undergone a second change in ruling parties. It has demonstrated to the world that the Chinese people are capable of establishing a free, democratic, open, and mature society. To the world's advanced democracies, the continued existence of these values is something precious and worth defending.

The ROC understands the harsh reality of international realpolitik. But we have ignored the intangible values of civilized human society. We have failed to properly market the ROC's virtues. More can be written about this in the future. Because the ROC needs to survive internationally. we need the support of the major powers. Domestic opinion has an influence on decision-making within these major powers. If the ROC's civilized values meet with the approval of international public opinion, their government's foreign policy will reflect that opinion. Many political leaders' decision not to participate in the Beijing Olympics torch relay or the opening ceremonies were based on public opinion and domestic pressure. The ROC government is far more powerful than the Tibetan protestors. If Tibet can gain international sympathy, so can the ROC.

Faced with the rise of mainland China, the ROC finds itself in a position of political weakness. We have also lost our economic advantage. But we must not lose our self-confidence and fighting spirit. The ROC is valuable not merely for its tangible economic achievements, but also for its intangible civilized values. We must reaffirm the value of our continued existence. We must find new ways to market this beautiful island of Taiwan to the international community.

中國時報  2008.04.25










Thursday, April 24, 2008

Will the Southern Front Disappear into 57 Document Shredders?

Will the Southern Front Disappear into 57 Document Shredders?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 24, 2008

President-elect Ma Ying-jeou will soon be inaugurated. Now in its final days, the outgoing Chen Shui-bian regime is implementing a "Scorched Earth Policy," deliberately leaving a mess for Ma to clean up. The mess includes artificially-low gasoline prices, the Suhua Highway, the Taiwan Goals arms procurement scandal, and the Sunny Bank scandal. The Presidential Office is even rumoured to have purchased 57 document shredders. Having learned from past mistakes, the Legislative Yuan is considering preventive legislation to deal with the transfer of presidential and vice presidential authority.

In fact every aspect of the handover, including those relating to personnel, budgets, policies, and confidential files, is covered by existing laws. The passage of new laws is unnecessary. The bizarre phenomenon taking place is the result of the outgoing Chen regime's refusal to obey the law. It is not the result of inadequate laws. If the outgoing Chen regime violates the law during the handover, it must bear full legal responsibility for its actions. It must not be exempt from prosecution merely because it has already stepped down.

Political appointees come and go depending upon which party is in office. Career civil servants on the other hand are subject to the Civil Service Promotion Act. They may not be arbitarily transferred. Their promotion within the civil service is subject to certain legal standards and procedures. Candidates for promotion must meet strict standards. Candidate promotion rosters must be approved by Candidate Review Boards. If authorities violate the law, they are subject to prosecution. DPP political appointees have illegally appointed relatives and cronies to positions of power. But the punishments meted out to them have been mere slaps on the wrist. The offending officials must not escape punishment. They must pay for their offenses -- with their careers. Civil servants are protected by the law. Therefore they must avoid political controversy and refuse to obey illegal orders from their superiors. Only this can ensure the stability and integrity of the civil service system.

Budgets and policies are two sides of the same coin. The government must formulate policies and draft budgets. It must then get them approved by the Legislative Yuan. Only then can it govern. Furthermore, the Council of Grand Justices considers budgets reviewed and adopted by the Legislative Yuan as "implementations of the law." These implementations must be in accordance with the law. The Budget Act also requires that concerned agencies implement the budget according to plan, on schedule, then evaluate the situation and send their findings to the Legislative Yuan. The budget may not be spent in advance. Any agencies that illegally spend their budgets in advance must be held legally liable.

The State Secrets Protection Act and the Archives Act explicitly define civil servants responsibilities. They must protect and manage official documents when they are transferred to another office, or resign from office. If they deliberately destroy official documents, or fail to destroy them in accordance with proper procedure, they may be criminally liable. The rumour that the Presidential Office has ordered 57 document shredders may be true or false. But if a future review of document numbers reveals files missing for no reason, those responsible will be criminally liable. Chen Shui-bian says his Confidential State Affairs Expenses funded a top secret "Southern Front." Chen Shui-bian says that the archiving of "Southern Front" documents met with the approval of the Council of Grand Justices. If so, the documents are subject to the terms of the aforementioned State Secrets Protection Act and Archives Act. If so, Chen Shui-bian is legally obligated to turn them over to his successor, intact. If they are destroyed, Chen may be criminally liable.

Therefore all aspects of the handover process are subject to legal constraints. The only question is whether the outgoing regime is obeying the law. If the new administration is guilty of illegal activity after taking office, it must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, especially during the transition period. If it is found guilty of fraud or dereliction of duty, if it illegally bestows favors upon certain parties, or accepts kickbacks, it is guilty of corruption. Prosecutors may then prosecute those involved according to the law.

If the Legislature passes special legislation purely in response to the presidential election and the handover of authority, the constitutionality of this legislation may be challenged. Before the constitution was amended, depriving the legislature the right to approve the president's nominees for Premier, the Council of Grand Justices offered constitutional interpretations 387 and 419. They stressed that the Executive Yuan must answer to the Legislative Yuan. The Executive Yuan is obligated to resign en masse. Following a presidential election however, the Premier's resignation is merely a courtesy resignation. It is merely a method of coping with a political issue, rather than a solution for a constitutional issue. The Grand Justices failed to express an opinion after constitutional amendments deprived the Legislative Yuan of the right to approve the President's choices for Premier. In other words, the transfer of authority should have occurred after the Legislative Elections, not after the Presidential Election. Reckless and ill-considered constitutional amendments have created chaos. If the Legislature passes special legislation specifically in response to the Presidential Election, in response to the transfer of authority, they may add to the confusion, and further tilt the system toward a presidential system.

2008.04.24 02:58 am








Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The 1992 Consensus: One Consensus, Two Interpretations?

The 1992 Consensus: One Consensus, Two Interpretations?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 23, 2008

During the Hu/Siew Summit at the Boao Forum, Vincent Siew proposed that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait "confront reality, create a better future, set aside differences, and seek a win/win scenario." Hu Jintao made no mention of the One China Principle. He didn't even mention his joint statement with George W. Bush regarding the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations.

On the following day, during the Cross-Strait Economic and Trade Round Table, the Beijing Ministry of Commerce issued a press release mentioning the One-China Principle. Two hours later, Xinhua deleted the term from its news coverage. The Ministry of Commerce also removed the term from its website. Such developments suggest that differences over the One China Principle have been set aside. During a press conference State Council Office for Taiwan Affairs spokesman Li Weiyi told reporters that cross-strait relations "rested on the foundation of the 1992 Consensus."

The situation is somewhat chaotic. Have the two sides set aside their differences or not? If they have, have even the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations been set aside as well? Hu Jintao made no mention of the 1992 Consensus during the Hu/Siew Summit. Does that mean it has been set aside too? A few days later, the State Council Office of Taiwan Affairs mentioned the 1992 Consensus. Does that mean the 1992 Consensus is synonymous with One China, Different Interpretations? Are the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Expressions synonymous with "setting aside differences?" Was the disappearance of the One-China Principle from the Boao press temporary? If it appears again, does that mean the One China Principle is equivalent to the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations? Different Expressions does not negate One China. It merely notes that each side defines and understands "One China" differently.

The 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations seems to be in a tug of war with "setting aside differences." Hu Jintao failed to mention the 1992 Consensus or One China, Different Interpretations during the Boao Forum. But the One-China Principle was added to a press release afterwards. If this is what "setting aside differences" means, it is disingenuous, and may lead to problems down the line. This is not setting aside differences. This is sweeping them under the rug.

By contrast, the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations is a much better way of setting aside differences. On the one hand, the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations can be considered synonymous with "setting aside differences." On the other hand, the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations does not sweep differences under the rug. Instead, it incorporates both views. If the two sides have gone from affirming the 1992 Consensus to setting aside the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations, then that is sweeping differences under the rug, then that is a step back, not a step forward.

The Ma administration must be alert to the risks involved. It must not engage in self-deception. A better approach is to stick to the 1992 Consensus, to reinforce the 1992 Consensus and to stress Different Interpretations. The Ma administration must equate the One-China Principle with the 1992 Consensus and Different Interpretations. Only then can it set aside and resolve differences rather than cover them up. Only then can it avoid the risk of self-deception and eventual catastrophe.

The Ma administration and the Beijing authorities are attempting to reaffirm the legitimacy of the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations. They must also consolidate public support for the 1992 Consensus and for One China, Different Interpretations. A decade ago Lee Teng-hui was wallowing in "black gold" corruption and wilfully destroying the ROC Constitution. The DPP followed suit by forcing everyone into a simplistic "Loving Taiwan vs. Betraying Taiwan" dichotomy. The term "Republic of China" nearly became a dirty word. Candidates at KMT rallies dared not emphasize the formal name of the country or wave the national flag. The DPP had arrogated to itself the right to define the ethnic and national identity of the Chinese people on Taiwan. The DPP's Rectification of Names campaign, Anti-Chiang Purges, insults to Chiang's memory, demolition of Chiang's plaques, Join the UN Plebiscites, selective 228-oriented reading of history, and attempts to stuff the Republic of China down an Orwellian "Memory Hole" have left the nation prostrate and bleeding.

The Ma administration must make a commitment. It must identify with the Republic of China and heal the artificially-concocted "ethnic" and "national" divisions created by the Taiwan independence movement. Only by rehabilitating the Republic of China, can it properly defend One China, Different Interpretations and deal with its ramifications. The One-China Principle must include the Different Interpretations clause. The Ma administration must not treat the Republic of China as it has in the past, as Original Sin. It must not bob and weave. It must not attempt to muddle through. It must find the courage to reaffirm the moral and political legitimacy of the Republic of China. If it fails to do so, the public will not support the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations. In that case, how can the Ma administration possibly expect Beijing to respect and abide by its terms?

Cross-strait relations must not be reduced to empty lip service. Any differences to be set aside must be set aside under the terms of the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations.

2008.04.23 02:53 am










Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Faces, New Thinking

New Faces, New Thinking
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 22, 2008

Incoming Premier Liu Chao-shiuan has just announced his first round of cabinet appointments. One can already guess what people are going to say about the appointments. Skeptics will say "old wine in old bottles," "nothing new," and "gerontocracy." Supporters on the other hand will say "tried and true," "the older the wine, the richer the bouquet," and "old hands know the ropes."

The first wave of cabinet appointments has been announced. Whether they were judicious choices or not, we don't know. We can only render a final verdict after the new cabinet has been in operation for a while and has accumulated a performance record.

The outstanding characteristic of the new cabinet is stability. Its defect, if any, is its lack of surprises. Let's talk about the incoming administration's cabinet appointments, beginning with Ma Ying-jeou's choice of Vincent Siew as his Vice Presidential running mate. When we look at Vincent Siew, we can't help thinking of Annette Lu. Siew's recent activities have inspired commentators to refer to him as a "quasi-president/quasi-premier." They even wonder whether he has overstepped his authority. Annette Lu, by contrast, was shackled for eight years by two words: "replacement president." This turned her into a "woman spurned," of which hell hath no fury. Let's contrast Liu Chao-shiuan with Chen Shui-bian's six Premiers. Tang Fei was appointed Premier because Chen needed a Blue camp leader for appearances. He was followed by Chang, Yu, Hsieh and Su, and Chang a second time. Again, for the sake of appearances. On the other hand, look at the SEF's Chiang Pin-kung. Contrast him with Chang Chun-hsiung and Hong Chi-chang, with Minister of Economic Affairs Yin Chi-ming, or with Chung Tsai-yi and Huang Ying-shan. Besides, the Chen Shui-bian government often appointed a figurehead as chief. The real "power behind the throne" was often his deputy. Contrast the past with the present. The incoming Ma administration's first wave of cabinet appointments are about substance and stability. The outgoing Chen regime's assignments were all about perception and novelty.

Vincent Siew is more stable than Annette Lu. Chung Tsai-yi is more novel than Yin Chi-ming. The roster of candidates for the Liu cabinet did not contain a single name that could be considered novel. Conversely not one of the Liu cabinet's appointments will disappoint the public when it comes to job performance. In other words: the Liu cabinet is not about new faces, it is all about new thinking.

When one looks at the new cabinet, one experiences a sense of deja vu. Much of the Liu cabinet served in the Lee Teng-hui administration. One could say that these people shared something in common -- they were all removed from office eight years ago. But most people would say this KMT elite was undermined by Lee Teng-hui's "black gold" corruption, by his concerted effort to destroy the ROC Constitution, and by his economically-suicidal cross-strait policy. Now, having endured eight years of hardship, the same faces have reappeared. They have been tempered by defeat, by being in the opposition. Can this new leadership adopt new thinking and lead the nation to a rebirth? That is the question the incoming Ma government must answer.

Lee Teng-hui undermined an entire generation of KMT elites. He also inflicted deep wounds on the nation. Now, eight years later, Ma Ying-jeou is giving these elites a new lease on life, a second chance to use their talent to save the nation in its hour of distress. The world will witness this historical paradox. Different leaders with different thinking, leading the same faces. Will they bring order to chaos? Turn defeat into victory?

Actually Ma Ying-jeou's past appointments did not fit neatly inside the box. They could be considered both orthodox and novel at the same time. Yeh Chin-chuan, Ou Ching-teh, Pai Hsiu-hsiung could be considered orthodox appointments. Ching Pu-tsung, Lung Ying-tai, Cheng Chun-chi could be consider novel appointments. The composition of the Liu cabinet appears to be orthodox rather than novel. Financial and economic appointments are at the core of the new administration. Yesterday two political appointees with financial backgrounds were announced. This represents orthodox thinking. Meanwhile, the appointment of Wang Ching-feng as Minister of Justice, of Wang Ju-hsuan as Chairperson for the Council of Labor Affairs, represent innovative thinking. This has become a topic of considerable discussion. The first impression the new cabinet gives is that it is stable but not entirely lacking in novelty.

It is often said that the KMT is loaded with talent. But the new cabinet leaves the impression of a discontinuity in leadership. The first wave of appointments yesterday left the Treasury, the Ministry of Defense, and the Mainland Affairs Council vacant. The Minister of Education in particular has attracted the attention of the public. The Minister of Education has yet to be announced. Work awaits, but talent is hard to find. Only when one is about to charge, does one realize one is short of experienced generals. This may be the greatest difficulty the incoming Ma/Siew administration faces.

The Ma administration faces an arduous challenge. It must bring a nation back from the dead. No one knows whether the team announced yesterday is up to the task. For the past decade, beginning with the Lee Teng-hiu regime and ending with the Chen Shui-bian regime, the machinery of government has been an instrument of political infighting and electioneering. Not only did the government cease to function, the two major parties sacrifice their Best and Brightest. We have no desire to criticize individual cabinet appointees. But we have high hopes for the new team's promise of "integrity, professionalism, and perseverance leading to equality and the rebirth of Taiwan."

The cabinet may be chosen by those in power. But whether the cabinet has governed successfully will be decided by the general public.

2008.04.22 02:42 am











Monday, April 21, 2008

Lifted: The Nativist Curse

Lifted: The Nativist Curse
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
2008.04.21 2:26 am

It is less than a month after the election. The new government has yet to be formed. But the atmosphere has already changed considerably. Vincent Siew's presence at the Boao Forum is already melting the ice in the Taiwan Strait. The stale air created by the DPP's eight year long Closed Door policy is dissipating. Under pressure from the new mandate, the old regime has offered to adopt the new regime's policies in advance. A constructive form of competition has already begun.

Examples of this competition abound. The incoming Ma/Siew administration is about to open the island to mainland tourists. In response, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu has urged a policy of "Southern Entry, Southern Departure." She hopes to increase business opportunities for Kaohsiung. Failing that, she urges a policy of "Northern Entry, Southern Departure." In the area of agriculture, Yunlin County hopes to hold a fruit festival timed to match the Beijing Olympics. County Magistrate Su Chi-feng personally led a delegation to Macao to solicit tourism. The Council of Agriculture, which struggled mightily to prevent the sale of Taiwan fruits to the mainland, has now reversed itself. It has decided to subsidize the sale of agricultural products from eight counties to the mainland.

Even some private sector pig farmers are chomping at the bit, shouting "Taiwan pigs must counterattack the mainland!" They hope to sell high quality Taiwan pork to the mainland. The incoming Ma/Siew administration has announced its intention to make the NTD and RMB convertible in July. In response, the Central Bank is buying RMB in advance. Although its response remains guarded, its attitude is eminently pragmatic.

Such changes are a form of "political exorcism." Over the past eight years, a "Nativist" consciousness and Taiwan independence Political Correctness took possession of the Taiwan public. Many normal economic and trade activities were seen as taboo. Opening up to the mainland was beyond the pale. Normal exchanges were forbidden. The Chen regime imposed a wide range of obstacles to cross-strait exchanges. In the end it merely limited its own options. Once the DPP lost the election, these taboos suddenly lost their power to intimidate. People suddenly realized cross-strait links weren't so frightening. Over the past eight years no one dared violate these taboos, despite the fact they had little justification, and weren't fraught with all the peril the DPP would have people believe.

Take Boao for example. The Hu/Siew summit was a rare event. But for the public on Taiwan, seeing the ruling DPP's blockade lifted, almost at the snap of one's fingers, was even more meaningful. The Chen regime drew a line in the sand.
Siew stepped right over it, then returned a conquering hero. The Green Camp accused Beijing of "demeaning" Siew. In reality, he was feted as a VIP. The DPP warned Siew that Beijing would humiliate him by forcing him to use a "Taiwan Compatriot Entry Permit." In reality, aides from the two sides solved that problem neatly through bilateral consultation. For the past eight years the DPP has been weaving horror stories. hoping to frighten the public. Its stories, unable to withstand the light of day, have turned to dust.

The process is worth reviewing. During the election, the ruling DPP demonized the Ma/Siew camp's "Cross-Strait Common Market" in every possible way. The DPP denounced it as a "Policy of Surrender," as a stalking horse for a "One-China Market." The Hsieh camp even composed a limerick: "Taiwan men will be unable to find work. Taiwan women will be unable to find husbands. Taiwan children will end up as child labor in Heilongjiang." One month later, DPP officials from the central government level to the municipal and county levels, are singing an entirely different tune. Now how interesting is that?

A press release issued by the mainland Ministry of Commerce after the Boao Forum was equally interesting. It included boilerplate regarding the "One China Principle." It was in close accord with the spirit of "One China, Different Interpretations." But Beijing was so concerned about Taipei's feelings, it deleted the "One China" terminology three hours later. Such flexibility has changed Beijing's rigid, hardline image, and left a positive impression on the Taiwan public. The political exorcism is having an impact on both sides of the strait.

The political exorcism originated from within civil society, and represents the collective will of the public. It was a rational, grass roots social movement. The ruling DPP overplayed its Nativist hand. The Chen regime's Closed Door policy alienated the electorate. The Green camp's Nativist and Taiwan independence rhetoric lost its magic spell. Once the spell of populism was broken, rational discourse returned. A return to rational discourse and normal party politics is a welcome change indeed.

After wandering through a political wasteland for eight years, we have finally emerged into the light. We are breathing fresh air, unpolluted by the rhetoric of populism. Many people are undoubtedly heaving deep sighs of relief. Over the past decade, how many people have been subjected to unprovoked taunts of "Chinese pigs, go back to where you came from!" Today, Taiwan pig farmers are shouting "Taiwan pigs must counterattack the mainland!" Such a simple change. Yet how many hearts has it touched? What a relief to inhabit a new era, free of political insults.

2008.04.21 02:26 am










Friday, April 18, 2008

To the DPP: Liberate Yourself from Your Own Bonds

To the DPP: Liberate Yourself from Your Own Bonds
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, China)
A Translation
April 18, 2008

At a moment when attention is focused on cross-strait relations after May 20, the Democratic Progressive Party, from top to bottom, seems intent on poor-mouthing the Boao Forum. The DPP's take on the forum departs sharply from mainstream 's consensus, and leaves the public with a powerful impression that the ruling DPP can hardly wait to resume the role of opposition party. It leaves the impression that as the two sides of the strait move toward reconciliation, the DPP is seeking emotional refuge in its familiar rhetorical framework.

If the Democratic Progressive Party's motive is merely to challenge the effectiveness of the Boao Forum, then it is perfectly justified. The problem is their rhetoric. None of it is new. All of it is old. First, Chen Shui-bian alleged that Vincent Siew was invited to this year's Boao Forum merely because Beijing wanted to draw attention away from the unrest in Tibet and the protests along the Olympic Torch Route. Chen Shui-bian even alleged that the front row where Vincent Siew sat during the opening ceremony was "Seating for Regional Governors." Annette Lu described the Boao Forum as "War of Reunification Political Theater." The DPP legislative caucus criticized the result of the Boao Forum as "Four Humiliations." In short, according to the DPP hierarchy, the forum was a complete bust.

Boao is merely a forum for friendship and dialogue. Whether it has the wherewithal to shift international attention from Tibet and the Olympic Torch Relay we leave to your common sense. The chief executives of the world's nations receive global intelligence reports every day. Yet Chen Shui-bian, in complete violation of common sense, could draw such an absurd conclusion. What is there left to say? The DPP described the seating arrangements as "Seating for Regional Governors." That was interesting. No matter how you slice it, Vincent Siew will not be Vice President for another month. One can argue endlessly about whether he should be treated as a vice president, a regional governor, or a chairman. Based on the seating arrangements for the opening ceremony or Hu Jintao's banquet table, one could arrive at two entirely different interpretations. Regional governors were hardly the only ones attending the forum. Many foreign officials and heads of state also sat in the front row or at the main table. Were they all "demoted" as well?

Another scene was even more interesting. After the closing ceremonies, a number of ruling Democratic Progressive Party Mayors and County Magistrates displayed an entirely different attitude than the Chen administration and the DPP Legislative Caucus. These local officials were concerned about getting their cut once direct flights were initiated and the floodgates to mainland tourists opened after May 20. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu took the lead, demanding that Kaohsiung be designated the port of entry and port of departure for mainland tourists. In other words, "Southern Entry, Southern Departure." Yunlin County Magistrate Su Chi-fen announced that he would personally lead a group to the mainland to solicit tourists. Chiayi County Magistrate Chen Ming-wen wanted Bu Tai Harbor designated a port of entry for direct cross-strait flights. According to the DPP's Conventional Wisdom, these Green Camp Mayors and County Magistrates were "openly colluding with the KMT," or worse, endorsing a "One-China Market." If Siew's participation in the Boao Forum was nothing more than "War of Reunification Political Theater," if Siew's participation meant he had been "demoted" to the status of a "Regional Governor," then weren't all these Green Camp Mayors and County Magistrates publicly endorsing Siew's "demotion?"

This is hardly the greatest irony. Promoting direct flights and letting in mainland tourists has been DPP policy for some time. Now that a breakthrough has finally been achieved, isn't that tantamount to implenting DPP policy? Is the DPP determined to negate the value of the breakthrough merely because it was made by the KMT? We don't want to accuse the DPP of being "sore losers," but can't the DPP see that it is already behind the curve relative to mainstream public opinion?

Some people may conclude that the DPP's poor-mouthing of the Boao Forum is mere show. That it is playing "bad cop." That cross-strait interactions have always involved someone playing "good cop" and someone else playing "bad cop." That may be true. But is the DPP determined to play only "bad cop" forever? If so, then it is relegating itself forever to a supporting role in perpetuity. As cross-strait relations evolve rapidly, the DPP will find itself increasingly marginalized.

An ever bigger problem for the DPP is its seeming inability to liberate itself from its own rhetorical shackles. At a time when the KMT is talking about scheduling weekend charter flights and establishing mechanisms for SEF/ARATS cooperation, the DPP is still harping about "Regional Governors" and "demotion." The times they are a changing. But the Democratic Progressive Party leadershop is seeking refuge in the mental prison created by its own election rhetoric, ignoring changes to the outside world.

Following the DPP's election debacle, some party members urged debate over the party's direction, as soon as possible. But these voices have died out. The DPP kept Taiwan ideologically bound and gagged for eight years. Now the public has liberated itself from these bonds. The DPP however, persists in incarcerating itself within its own ideological prison, determined to ignore changes to the outside world.

中國時報  2008.04.18









Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Ways of Heaven are Hard to Decipher: The DPP made the Hu Siew Summit Possible

The Ways of Heaven are Hard to Decipher: The DPP made the Hu Siew Summit Possible
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 17, 2008

The DPP made the Hu Hsiao Summit possible. That is not an exaggeration.

In 2000, the Lien/Siew ticket was cheated out of its election victory. Lien and Siew each went their own way. In 2001, Siew organized the Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation. He served one term as Chen Shui-bian's Chief Economic Adviser. In 2005, Lien Chan, as Chairman of the Kuomintang, visited the mainland and established a KMT/CCP dialog mechanism. For several years, Lien and Siew went their own way, and shared little ground in common.

Who could have predicted that in 2008 Ma Ying-jeou would seek out Vincent Siew as his running mate? That the Ma/Siew ticket would score a resounding victory? That the mutual trust created between the KMT and CCP by Lien Chan's dialogue mechanism, in conjunction with Vincent Siew's cross-strait foundation, would enable the attention-grabbing Hu/Siew Summit to take shape, virtually overnight? Lien Chan's dialog mechanism, Vincent Siew's cross-strait foundation, and Ma's impending presidency were three separate paths. Yet they converged almost instantly. They became a "one-two punch." They played out a chapter of history that took the world by surprise.

The course of history is tortuous. Had the KMT not been out of power for eight years, would Lien Chan have been able to visit the mainland? Had the DPP not resorted to political trickery to remain in power in 2004, would Lien Chan's visit the mainland have acquired so much legitimacy with the public on Taiwan? Had the KMT not been out of power, would Vincent Siew have been "reduced" to lobbyist for a cross-strait common market? Could the KMT and the CCP have established such a well-oiled dialogue mechanism? Would party officials at the highest levels have enjoyed the opportunity for face-to-face interaction? Had the DPP not lost the hearts and minds of the people, would Ma Ying-jeou and his new cross-strait policy have met with the approval of so many voters? Without all these precedents, how could the Hu Siew Summit have taken place? How could the "Four Hopes" and "Four Constants" have made their debut?

The price paid, eight years in the political wilderness, was high. But the rewards have been commensurate. First. Events have confirmed that the path of Taiwan independence and the DPP's Closed Door Policy is a dead end. Maintaining the status quo and advocating cross-strait exchange can no longer be falsely equated with "betraying Taiwan." The Ma/Siew ticket's election victory has confirmed the legitimacy of cross-strait links. Second. The KMT and CCP party hierarchies have made good use of this eight year window of opportunity. After rare personal contacts and heartfelt exchanges, they have established a considerable degree of mutual trust. Third. The KMT was able to establish close contacts with the CCP only because it was out of power. Now that the KMT is again the ruling party, bilateral contacts can immediately and seamlessly be raised to the level of "ruling party to ruling party" contacts.

Without eight years of accumulated experience, today's scenario would have been impossible. Eight years of opposition KMT interaction with the CCP will enable the ruling KMT to interact smoothly and constructively with the CCP. Conversely, eight years of Democratic Progressive Party misrule has thoroughly discredited Taiwan independence and the DPP's Closed Door Policy. Eight years of DPP misrule has transformed the DPP into a reluctant but persuasive witness on behalf of the KMT's new cross-strait policy. For cross-strait relations, the past eight years have been a blessing in disguise.

As Beijing sees it, Taiwan independence momentum has been building over the past eight years. The Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution campaigns, the Plebiscite to Join the UN, and efforts to stuff the Republic of China down the Memory Hole, have forced Beijing to look more favorably on "maintaining the status quo." A Bush/Hu hotline exchange affirmed the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations, and that "opposing independence had higher priority than promoting reunification." Meanwhile on Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian's misrule and malfeasance, his campaigns to purge Chiang's legacy, insult Chiang's memory, demolish Chiang's name plaques, demagogue the 228 Incident, Rectify Names and Author of a New Constitution, hold Plebiscites to Join the UN, have infuriated the public, undermined the legitimacy of Taiwan independence, and provoked doubts about the DPP's Closed Door policy.

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have taken note of two entirely opposite trends. The mainland authorities have noted the Taiwan independence movement's increased momentum. The public on Taiwan has noted the Taiwan independence movement's diminished credibility. Amidst these opposing trends, the KMT and the CCP have won over public opinion. The public has endorsed the KMT's policy of open exchanges. Ma Ying-jeou, as spokesman for a new cross-strait policy, emerged victorious in the presidential election. Who created this situation? Who but the DPP? Who but Chen Shui-bian?

After an eight-year War of Resistance against the DPP, the opposition KMT is again the ruling party. The KMT knows what it means to lose power. The CCP should take the KMT's experience to heart. It should remember that the people are the masters and government authority originates with them. After eight years of interaction, the leadership on both sides of the strait must behave not like rivals jockeying for advantage, but like stakeholders promoting mutual advantage. After all, the two sides have a common cause -- the welfare of the people. They may be opponents, but they are also allies. This precious eight year legacy is something that both sides should cherish and maintain.

As for the DPP, its eight years in power created the conditions that made the Hu Hsiao Summit a possibility and a reality. It makes no difference that it was the farthest thing from the DPP's intention. The indisputable fact is the DPP made it all possible.

2008.04.17 02:43 am











Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An SEF Chairman qualified to be Premier

An SEF Chairman qualified to be Premier
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 16, 2008

Ma Ying-jeou's summed up the Hu Siew Meeting at the Boao Forum by saying, "This was a successful meeting." But he added, "We have merely melted the tip of the iceberg." Siew agreed, "The iceberg is huge. It will take a while for the melting water to become a torrent." Ma and Siew agree. Cross-strait relations should proceed slowly but surely.

Ma and Siew's remarks show that they do not have an inflated view of the significance of the Hu Siew Meeting. They remain cautious about future developments. They know that "above the abyss, is a thin layer of ice." They are unwilling to exaggerate their success. They have not ignored the risks. But neither are they flinching from the challenge. The public probably does not want the new leadership to make any rash moves.

Ma Ying-jeou has appointed Chiang Pin-kung SEF chairman. This means that cross-strait relations in the wake of the Boao Forum will be based on economic and trade exchange instead of bickering over political symbolism. Chiang Pin-kung was on the short list of candidates for Premier. To appoint Chiang Pin-kung SEF Chairman is to appoint someone qualified to be Premier to the position. Koo Chen-fu came from a background of wealth. He was appointed to high office. Chiang Pin-kung, by contrast, came from a humble background. He worked his way up the ladder of government, one step at a time. He is a workaholic highly experienced in public policy and government administration. Chiang Pin-kung is unlike Chang Chun-hsiung. Former premier Chang Chun-hsiung was also an SEF Chief. But Chang was a politician, a "hollow radish." Chiang Pin-kung, on the other hand, is a many year veteran of economic and trade matters. In recent years he has accumulated even more first hand experience with Taiwan businessmen. The Straits Exchange Foundation will have fewer people from Koo Chen-fu's era. It will also have fewer people from Chang Chun-hsiung's era. We expect to see an SEF Chief who is "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer."

The ice in the Taiwan Strait is melting. The SEF is getting an infusion of new blood. The ice in the Taiwan Strait is not being melted merely to solve problems faced by Taiwan businessmen. It is being melted to solve problems faced by everyone on Taiwan. Opening Taiwan to the mainland opens Taiwan to the world. The synergy will create a win/win scenario for all. Taiwan can no longer afford to lose its economic lifeblood. It must recirculate that economic lifeblood in order to nourish the main body.

Economic and trade issues are the tip of Taiwan's cross-strait relations iceberg. Cross-strait relations meanwhile, are the tip of Taiwan's political and economic iceberg. If Taiwan fails to break down cross-strait economic and trade barriers, it will not be able to solve Taiwan's economic problems. But if it merely breaks down barriers to cross-strait economic and trade, it still won't be able to solve Taiwan's economic problems. For example, almost every year the American Chamber of Commerce and the European Chamber of Commerce have urged Taiwan to open direct links to the mainland. Obviously relaxing cross-strait economic and trade barriers helps more than just Taiwan businessmen and mainland businessmen. It increases economic and trade opportunities. It normalizes economic and trade relations in the Taiwan Strait. It creates conditions necessary for the transformation of Taiwan into an Asia-Pacific Regional Hub. Taiwan's political and economic problems be resolved only through cross-strait relations. Only cross-strait relations will enable people on Taiwan to go beyond cross-strait relations. Only then will Taiwan find salvation. Only then will Taiwan find a way out.

The atmosphere in the wake of the Boao Forum is overly optimistic. The business community was not alone. Even local Green camp officials such as Chen Chu and Su Chi-feng wanted to get in on the act, wanted their share of the booty. Ma and Siew offered timely reminders that "Melting the ice too quickly would create a flood" and that "haste makes waste." The appointment of the workaholic Chiang Pin-kung as SEF Chief offered cautious optimism that the ice might melt sooner rather than later. Community leaders need cooler heads than the general public. They must not allow enthusiasm to get the better of them.

The SEF was originally "a pair of white gloves," i.e., an intermediary. Chiang Pin-kung may indeed play such a role. But Chiang Pin-kung is an economic and trade expert with hands-on mainland experience. His role would hardly be limited to "a pair of white gloves." The late Koo Chen-fu lacked Chiang Pin-kung's hands-on experience. Koo Chen-fu never set foot on the mainland until 1998. Chiang Pin-kung will be visiting the mainland prior to May 20 in his capacity as KMT Vice Chairman. He will be thanking Taiwan businessmen for supporting the Ma/Siew ticket. Times truly have changed. We celebrate these changes in the SEF leadership.

Chiang Pin-kung is an SEF Chairman qualified to be Premier. The public hopes he will promote peaceful cross-strait exchanges. Even more, it hopes he will make good use of warmer cross-strait relations to improve world trade, strengthen Taiwan's role, and help solve Taiwan's political problems. The SEF is not an "Association for the Betterment of Taiwan Businessmen." It is an agent of national reconstruction. Chiang Pin-kung is an SEF Chairman qualfied to be Premier. The public has good reason for optimism.

Chiang Pin-kung may actually be able to make a greater contribution to his country as SEF Chairman than as Premier.

2008.04.16 02:37 am










Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Political Trickery must be Investigated to the Bitter End

Political Trickery must be Investigated to the Bitter End
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 2008.04.15

Frank Hsieh has sued Chen Chun-sheng for alleged defamation of character and election law violations. Yesterday the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office decided not to prosecute Chen. Prosecutors took depositions from Lin Hung-ming and Chen Chun-sheng. Ten years ago Wu Dun-yih and Frank Hsieh were running against each other for Mayor of Kaohsiung. During the last two weeks it came to light that the doctored tapes implicating Wu Dun-yih in an extramarital affair "were indeed supplied by Frank Hsieh." Hsieh handed the tapes over to Chen Chun-sheng at Lin Hung-ming's home. Prior court findings have confirmed that the tape was spliced together. The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office decision not to prosecute Chen clarifies a complicated and confusing decade long case. The doctored tape was probably responsible for Wu Dun-yih's defeat by a mere 5,000 votes. As the saying goes, "Justice delayed is justice denied."

In response to the prosecutors' decision not to prosecute Chen, Frank Hsieh's office said it would immediately meet with prosecutors. Hsieh's office said it wanted to prove that Chen Chun-sheng scripted the affair entirely by himself. Hsieh's office maintained that the master tape was not doctored. Hsieh's office alleged that the tapes the court identified as having been doctored were doctored by the Bureau of Investigation. Lin Hung-ming testified that the tape was handed to him at his house. Hsieh admitted he was present that night. But he said that the tapes were already present when he arrived on the scene. The day after prosecutors announced they were not going forward with the case, Frank Hsieh swore a blood oath that he was innocent.

Over the past decade, Taiwan's political culture has changed. It has changed from one of physical violence, vote buying and black gold politics, to one of political trickery. Wu Dun-yih's undeserved election loss in his bid for Kaohsiung Mayor was the first instance of this political trickery. This was followed by the Chung Hsing Bills case just before the 2000 Presidential Election, by the Two Bullets case the day before the 2004 Presidential Election, and by the Per Diem case on the eve of the 2006 Kaohsiung Mayoral Election. These were classic instances of political trickery that reversed the outcome of the election. Prosecutors have eventually gotten to the bottom of these cases. They have been through a decade of trials and tribulations. Politically speaking, the top dogs are now the under dogs, and the under dogs the top dogs.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Frank Hsieh's doctored tape rewrote Taiwan's history. It changed the Mayor of Kaohsiung. It foreshadowed ruling party change in 2000. Frank Hsieh was subsequently re-elected Mayor of Kaohsiung, appointed Premier, and ran for Taipei mayor. His nomination as the DPP's 2008 presidential candidate was made possible by his election as Kaohsiung Mayor. The Taipei District Prosecutor's Office decision not to prosecute Chen acknowledges certain facts made clear in the depositions. If they were to go forward with the case, they would merely force Frank Hsieh into a public accounting.

After all, Hsieh has still not come clean on what he was doing with Chen and Lin when the tapes were delivered to Lin's home. What reason is there to believe that the tape was not doctored? Is Hsieh omniscient and ominpotent? How could he possibly know what happened during the Bureau of Investigation's forensic analysis? How did he find himself mired in such a political conspiracy? Who has it in for him following the 2008 Presidential Election debacle? Who would lay such a trap for him? Hsieh is unable to answer these and other questions. Instead he rejects the court's decisions. He rejects the prosecutors' decision not to go forward. He rejects the testimony of two key witnesses. He persists in opening another case, in a futile effort to drag out a process that is already over and done with. He denies leaving fingerprints on the tape. His denials convince no one, and underestimate the public's common sense.

Prosecutors have not decided not to prosecute Chen Chun-sheng. This means Frank Hsieh may be prosecuted instead. He will be forced to explain his role in the sex scandal tapes, and bear full legal responsibility. For the past decade politicians who have been investigated have gotten off scot-free. It is not difficult to predict the number of politicians will resort to political trickery in the future. Every politician who thinks he can get away with it.

One cannot rewrite history. But society may be able to gain some insights from this prolonged discovery process. Democracy provides no assurance that politicians will behave ethically. Politicians will do whatever it takes to win. If the electorate fails to demand ethical conduct from its political representatives, then it must be prepared to suffer the painful consequences. The truth must be uncovered by means of due process of law. This requires both political courage and time.

Two years ago Chen Chun-sheng testified before the Legislative Yuan that Frank Hsieh personally handed him the master tape of the fake scandal tape. If Frank Hsieh hadn't chosen to sue for defamation of character, prosecutors wouldn't have had the opportunity to examine the physical evidence. The job of government officials is to enforce the law. If they can't stand the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen. The justice system is the hottest part of the kitchen. We must not assume that if Hsieh had won the presidential election, prosecutors would have lacked the courage to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Nor should we fault prosecutors for waiting until after the election. We have no reason to assume that prosecutors are piling on Hsieh merely because he lost the election. The Chinese parable about the father and son riding a donkey to market tells us that whatever we do, someone will criticize our actions. One must do what one must do. The law has a long arm. Those who resort to political trickery to win elections and rewrite history must bear full legal responsibility. Those who should be prosecuted, must be prosecuted, no ifs, ands, or buts.


台 北地檢署日前就謝長廷控告陳春生誹謗及違反選罷法案件,做成不起訴處分。檢方採信林宏明及陳春生二人的證詞,十年前吳敦義與謝長廷競選高雄市長,最後兩周 爆出吳敦義的緋聞錄音帶,「確實是謝長廷拿出來的」,地點是在林宏明宅。此前已有法院判決確認該捲錄音帶乃是經過變造剪接的錄音帶,北檢的不起訴處分進一 步澄清了十年以來撲朔迷離;如果那捲錄音帶的公布,就是吳敦義當年以不滿五千票些微差距敗選的原因,則如今除了遲來正義,還能挽回什麼?

針 對檢方的不起訴處分,謝長廷辦公室立即表示將提請檢方再議,以便證明陳春生是自導自演;他們繼續主張錄音帶的母帶是真的,而且指稱法院中鑑定為變造的錄音 帶曾經調查局剪接。不過,林宏明證稱交付錄音帶的地點是其住宅,謝長廷並不否認當晚確實到場,但說抵達時錄音帶已在現場。不起訴處分翌日,謝長廷更公開以 發毒誓的方式強調他的清白。

過去十年來,台灣的選舉景觀出現轉變,從暴力賄選黑金充斥,發展到選民聞選舉「奧步」而色變,就是以吳敦義在 緋聞錄音帶公布之後落選一役,首開先河。此後,兩千年大選之前的興票案,○四年大選前日的兩顆子彈,○六年高雄選舉前夕的走路工事件,都被看成某種「奧 步」扭轉選舉結果的經典案例。現在這樁事件經過司法程序逐漸水落石出,卻已屆十年寒暑,政治上已是桑田成為滄海,滄海又成桑田。

如果說這 捲緋聞錄音帶改寫了台灣的歷史,並不為過。當年高雄市長易手,正是二千年政黨輪替的先聲;以後謝長廷連任,再從高雄市長轉任閣揆,角逐台北市長,問鼎○八 年總統大選……也都從高雄市長勝選發端。如今台北地檢署不起訴處分採認的證詞及所彰顯的事實,就算持續走完司法訴訟,也該是謝長廷對高雄市民乃至台灣人民 必須有所交代的一樁歷史公案。

畢竟在北檢不起訴處分之後,謝長廷仍然未澄清自己為什麼會在交付錄音帶的當場與陳、林在林宏明的住宅晤面? 有什麼理由確知確信該捲錄音帶是未經剪接的真帶?謝如何全知全能地了解調查局的錄音帶鑑定作業過程?自己怎麼又再陷入某種政治陰謀的天羅地網?是誰要在他 ○八年總統敗選後落井下石、羅織構陷?若不能回答以上諸多疑問?單純地否定法院判決、否定檢方的不起訴處分、否定兩位關鍵證人的證詞,不斷地開啟另一個程 序以延續一個結束的程序,來否定自己曾在錄音帶事件中留下涉事指紋,其實說服力軟弱,也低估了社會常識判斷的能力。

迴避不起訴處分呈現的 事實,將迫使謝長廷必須繼續面對接踵而來的法律訴訟,以釐清其在緋聞錄音帶事件中究竟應該負擔何種法律責任。如果可以憑著口說某種想像中的政治構陷否定十 年來的司法追查而不必負擔任何法律責任,以後台灣的選舉將有多少政客師其劣技,不難預卜;奧步選舉盛行,亦恐不知伊於胡底。

歷史不能重 寫,但台灣社會或可從這樁歷史公案真相揭露的漫長過程中,得到一些啟示:即便是民主政治,政客若是缺乏起碼的政治道德,也可能會為求勝利不擇手段。選民如 果放棄要求政治人物遵守起碼的政治道德,就要準備付出慘痛的集體代價。畢竟透過司法程序還原事實,既需要獨立公正的法治勇氣,也需要漫長的時間。

兩 年前陳春生在立法院中公開謝長廷親手交付緋聞錄音母帶,要不是謝決定控其誹謗,檢方也無偵查驗證的機會。政客的法律責任,就是執法者的功課;司法畢竟不能 怕熱而不進執法廚房。我們不會假設若是謝長廷贏得總統選舉,檢方將無做成同樣不起訴處分的執法勇氣;也不會挑戰檢方等到大選結束後才完成不起訴處分的執法 智慧;更無理由懷疑檢方的不起訴處分是對敗選者落井下石。父子騎驢不能免於旁人指點,該走的路還是要走;法網恢恢,疏而不漏,用選舉奧步改寫歷史的法律責 任,該用訴訟追究的還是要追究到底!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pragmatism and Win/Win Thinking: the New Theme of Cross-Strait

Pragmatism and Win/Win Thinking: the New Theme of Cross-Strait Relations
China Times Editorial
A Translation
April 14, 2008

When future historians write the history of cross-strait relations, what will they make of the Siew Hu Meeting at this year's Boao Forum? Will they see it as an ice-breaker following the big freeze that began in 2000? Will they see it as historic? As the highest level meeting between the two sides since 1949? Regardless of how they see it, one point is indisputable. The meeting is a turning point in cross-strait relations. It has changed the course of history.

Perhaps it was the timing. Perhaps it was historical inevitability. No cross-strait summit was in the cards. Yet on the eve of the KMT's return to power, it became a reality. The Boao Forum was originally a trade forum. Its primary function was to serve as a transnational networking platform.

Those invited were mostly economic and financial officials from various nations. The forum enjoyed a diversified and flexible public/private, bilateral/multilateral, political/economic status highly conducive to informal cross-strait dialogue. Siew is one of the VIPs who has been invited to every session. The only difference is that this year he will be sworn in as Vice President of the Republic of China a month from now. At the moment however, he remains a civilian. The timing has made it possible to avoid disputes over his official status. The two sides need no longer remain preoccupied with official identity and political status. All that needed to build goodwill now is a protocol for future interaction. The forum has established an atmosphere conducive to rapprochement. Who can deny that the "Siew Hu Meeting" is not the sequel to the Koo-Wang talks? That it constitutes another milestone in cross-strait historical development?

As we review cross-strait relations, we see how much time was wasted jockeying for position and quibbling over irrelevancies such as One China vs. Different Interpretations, cross-strait vs. two states, dialogue vs. negotiations, consensus vs. spirit, premise vs. topic. Who knows how much energy has been expended on these semantic issues alone? The result has been years of deadlock. The two sides are as far apart as ever. Nobody has convinced anybody. Nobody has taken advantage of anybody. This jockeying for position has solved nothing. At the Boao Forum, such issues were shelved. Everyone knew they existed, but nobody spoke of them.

What alternative do we have? The cross-strait status quo is the result of historical circumstances. The two sides are each subject to their own internal constraints. If every controversy must be resolved before we can take the next step, we will merely perpetuate the current stalemate. The wheels of history never cease turning. If a wide range of non-controversial issues can be resolved, via a win/win scenario, why cling stubbornly to one's entrenched position? Vincent Siew and Ma Ying-jeou have conveyed a message to the mainland: "Face reality squarely, create future opportunities, set aside disputes, and seeking win/win solutions." That just about says it all.

The language of the Siew Hu Meeting reflects a whole new mode of cross-strait interaction. The two sides no longer need to quibble endlessly over pointless semantic distinctions. They are now free to take effective action. Vincent Siew Hu shared his "Four Hopes" with Hu Jintao. He hoped for direct, cross-strait transportation links, mainland tourism to Taiwan, economic and trade normalization, and the resumption of consultations and negotiations. Hu Jintao responded clearly with his "Four Constants." Together they addressed pragmatic issues and narrowed the focus. As long as these hopes and constants prevail, even more substantive talks will follow.

Siew proposed "pursuing a win-win situation." Hu Jintao, in response, proposed "creating a win-win situation." This footnote to the summit gives us cause for optimism. The two sides have entered a new era of pragmatism. During the second half of this year various technical issues can be worked out. This pragmatism will become the dominant theme in cross-strait interaction for the next few years. As a result, we can anticipate creative breakthroughs to more difficult problems, such as membership in the WHA and APEC. The next stage will be a form of benign cross-strait interaction. It will also be a kind of a test.

The Wang-Koo Era is long past. The eight year long rhetorical stand-off will end one month from now. So will economic stagnation and political stalemate. The mainland has appointed Director Chen Yunlin of the State Council for Taiwan Affairs, an old hand at cross-strait affairs, as the next Chairman of the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). On May 20, Taiwan will appoint new personnel to the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). When the two organizations resume cross-strait dialogue, they will usher in a new era of cross-strait relations.