Tsai Ing-wen Take Note: Players May Not Double As Referees
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 21, 2011
Two controversies arose during the DPP presidential primaries. The first was over whether to nominate the candidates on the basis of a "nationwide poll," or whether to nominate the candidates on the basis of a "party member ballot." Those who advocated a nationwide poll prevailed. The other was over whether to hold a "traveling townhall debate," or whether "the less debate, the better." So far, the two sides are at loggerheads. Neither side has gained the upper hand.
Those who advocate "the less debate, the better," feel that political debate will inevitably result in fratricide. In 2008, Su Tseng-chang and Frank Hsieh went at each other, no holds barred. Even arguments such as "changing the subject cannot change the perpetrators' guilt" were trotted out. Those who advocate more debates, feel the party cannot talk only about the candidates, and not about policy. They feel that because party chairman Tsai Ing-wen has election momentum, and holds the upper hand, she is both a player and a referee. They think she avoiding debate to maintain her advantage. They think this is unfair to the other candidates. Annette Lu has accused Tsai Ing-wen of making empty promises. Her rivals imply that Tsai's momentum has not been tested during political debate.
After evaluating the situation, the DPP decided it was better to hold additional, in-depth political debates. One. Tsai Ing-wen is herself a candidate. She cannot be an impartial referee. She has the power to manipulate the rules to counter the moves of rival candidates. Two. The decision has been made to hold a nationwide poll. Therefore even more public debate should be held. This would allow the public to evaluate each candidate's political views, and to make decisions accordingly. This is particularly true because the current presidential election involves major political controversies that cannot and should not be avoided.
During past presidential elections, voters were regaled with such slogans as "new centrist path," "believe in Taiwan," or "consistent from beginning to end." Such slogans were mere soap bubbles. They sparkled on the outside, but werem empty on the inside. The current presidential election however, involves matters of flesh and blood. They include such matters as the 1992 Consensus, One China, Different Interpretations, One Naition on Each Side, ECFA, Three Links and Direct Flights, the Economic Cooperation Committee, and whether to continue the cross-Strait policy of the previous administration. Soap bubbles such as "believe in Taiwan" may help a candidate dodge the issues. But the candidates really must take a stand on issues such as the 1992 Consensus.
Frank Hsieh advocates an "overlapping constitutional consensus" as a replacement for the 1992 Consensus, and "One Constitution, Different Interpretations" as a replacement for "One China, Different Interpretations." But some within the party have denounced his proposals as an absurd mess. Taiwan independence elements say that it follows the the same internal logic as the One China Constitution. Su Tseng-chang meanwhile, advocates a "Taiwanese Consensus." He advocates the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. He maintains that "survival is paramount, democracy is the foundation." That of course, is merely another soap bubble. Frank Hsieh has confronted Su Tseng-chang. "How can you oppose One China, Different Interpretations?" "Do you accept the Constitution of the Republic of China in its entirety?" Chen Shui-bian also had his two cents worth. From inside prison, he blasted both Frank Hsieh's "constitutional consensus," and Annette Lu's, "1996 Consensus," as "sophistry." He said they were not as good as his own "One Nation, each Side." Tsai Ing-wen meanwhile, remains mired in opposition to ECFA, repudiation of the 1992 Consensus, claims that the Republic of China is an exiled alien regime, and assurances that if the DPP wins, it will continue the previous administation's cross-Strait policy. Tsai's position is a self-contradictory mess. Her "Political Platform for the Coming Decade" is all thunder and no rain. How can the Democratic Progressive Party wage a presidential campaign based on this mess? How can it govern the nation assuming it is elected? How can we avoid debating such matters? How can we not hold a series of in-depth debates?
Those who say "the less debate. the better," say they are concerned about preserving unity. But under the circumstances, any such "unity" would constitute complicity in fraud. It would evade debate in order to deceive the Green Camp party faithful. It would use the nationwide poll to provide false hope. It would blow yet another soap bubble to deceive swing voters. This trick was used during the five cities elections. What were "Happiness" and "Glory," but more soap bubbles? Does the DPP really think it can win the presidency merely by donning a pink T shirt?
Chen Shui-bian ran for president in 2000. To enable him to win, the DPP published its Resolution on Taiwan's Future. But then the DPP ruled for eight years. It attempted to ram through the "rectification of names," the "Referendum to Join the UN," "One Country Each Side," and the "Resolution for a Normal Nation." It has already shredded the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. How should the DPP presidential candidate sort out this mess before entering the debate? One. The candidate must help the party regroup, internally. Two. The candidate must explain the party's position to the public, Three. The candidate must declare the party's position to Beijing and the international community.
Tsai Ing-wen is both a player and a referee. Years ago, when she was MAC chairman, she prevented Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus and from restoring the National Unification Council. Today, she is vying for the presidency. When she stands for election, she must make clear her position on the constitution and cross-Strait policy. She must explain her position to the Green Camp and voters in public debate. Or does she intend to correct her "Five Noes" only after she becomes president, through her newly appointed Mainland Affairs Council Chairman?