The DPP Owes the People an Explanation
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 17, 2010
Chen Shui-bian is about to be sent to prison. The Democratic Progressive Party owes the public an explanation for the eight years of chaos it inflicted upon the nation. Only by publicly acknowledging the legal sentences handed down by the justice system on Chen Shui-bian, and clarifying the party's position, can the DPP shrug the monkey off its back and move forward unencumbered.
Doing so is not that difficult. But the DPP not miss another opportunity. Third instance rulings have been handed down in the Longtan Land Acquisition and sale of official positions scandals. Hoping to avoid any negative impact on its election prospects, the DPP has studiously avoided commenting on the matter. One would think Ah-Bian had nothing to do with the DPP. Deep Green elements are shrilly protesting, alleging that the ruling was unjust. Chen Shui-bian has compared himself to Nelson Mandela. He even said that the "KMT and CCP have joined hands" in order to see him dead. Does the DPP intend to continue hiding behind Deep Green hardliners? Does it intend to remain a political party indifferent to right and wrong, and afraid to own up to its mistakes?
For the sake of political accountability, the DPP should apologize to the people. The people have been waiting for one almost six years. Six years ago, Chen Shui-bian perpetrated the 3/19 Shooting Hoax. This was followed by one Chen family corruption scandal after another, after which the Red Shirt Army took to the streets. This presented the DPP with an opportunity to act decisively. Who knew the party would allow itself to be bought off by Ah-Bian? It did everything in its power to shield him and cover for him. It crushed reformists within the party. Two years ago Chen Shui-bian stepped down. One corruption scandal after another entered the judicial system hopper. This presented the DPP with yet another opportunity to draw a line between itself and Ah-Bian. Instead, it allowed the problem to drag on. The party argued that it wanted to wait for confirmation of guilt before passing moral judgment. But third instance rulings have already been rendered in two of the cases. What exactly is the DPP waiting for?
The DPP can not evade the issue, which should be considered on several levels. First, consider political responsibility. Ah-Bian ruled for eight years. Virtually every member of the Democratic Progressive Party elite became part of the ruling nomenklatura. Chen Shui-bian got away with rampant corruption, decadence, and lawlessness, only because of the aid he received from the entire administration. Even if members of the DPP elite were not directly involved in criminal activity, they cannot shirk political responsibility. They made it possible for Ah-Bian to engage in the rampant looting of state assets. This responsibility is not about to vanish into thin air merely because Ah-Bian is behind bars.
Secondly, consider moral responsibility. Chen Shui-bian's corruption has led directly to the distortion and destruction of society's moral values. These need correcting and clarifying. If the DPP insists that Chen Shui-bian is innocent, and has suffered the same injustice as Nelson Mandela, it should publicly state how the justice system was unfair. It should even urge people to take to the streets to protest. But if it thinks Chen Shui-bian is guilty, and that his conduct should not be encouraged, then it should concede this point to the public and Deep Green supporters. It should liberate Taiwan from Ah-Bian's negative influence, and restore Taiwan's moral compass.
Third, consider responsibility to the nation. The Democratic Progressive Party has long exploited Blue vs. Green confrontation to its advantage. It has repeatedly cast doubt on the legitimacy of the government. This has led to a loss of confidence in public authority, and led the people toward nihilism. The Chen corruption trial rendered a judgment on the nation's highest leader. This was the justice system's last line of defense. Moreover, Chen Shui-bian was prosecuted by the Special Investigation Unit he himself established. That makes it even more remarkable. It is bad enough that the DPP failed to prevent Ah-Bian from engaging in corruption. What's worse is how even today it refuses to support our nation's justice system. It insists on repudiating its legitimacy by means of political demagoguery. The public will find it easy to see which political party lacks sincerity.
Chen Shui-bian, by going from "political golden boy" to "the first head of state to enter prison," has nullified the Democratic Progressive Party's "progressive" credentials. He has turned Taiwan's democracy into a joke. The degree to which the public has suffered is incalculable. The DPP should not assume that such wounds will heal automatically. It should not assume that its responsibilities will disappear with Chen Shui-bian's imprisonment. The DPP is busy trumpeting the "good government" card. But the Chen corruption case is raising such a stink, who is going to buy into the DPP's promises of "good government?"
A political party that cannot face up to its own mistakes, cannot help revealing its cowardly, deceitful, and insincere nature. In fact, the DPP must do far more than merely distance itself from Ah-Bian. It must solemnly apologize to the public for eight years of brutal, corrupt, and myopic rule. In fact, isn't this something the justice system has overlooked as it prosecutes the guilty?
Over the past twenty years, the DPP has stridently demanded apologies from the KMT for an endless list of offenses. Ma Ying-jeou bears no responsibility whatsoever for the 2/28 Incident. But no matter how many times he has apologized for it, the Green Camp is never satisfied. By contrast, the DPP eagerly aided and abetted Chen Shui-bian's corruption. Yet no one has heard it offer a single apology over the past several years. A legal judgment is the least a nation has the right to expect. The people also need to hear the DPP express remorse and offer them an apology. The DPP owes the public an explanation.