Friday, June 24, 2011

The Issue is Policy Achievements, not Current Responsibilities

The Issue is Policy Achievements, not Current Responsibilities
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 25, 2011

It has now been confirmed. Premier Wu Den-yih will be Ma Ying-jeou's running mate in his 2012 re-election bid. Also, Wu will not resign from his current position. The Green Camp has blasted him for holding on to his current position while running for vice president. They say this could undermine his neutrality as premier. Some in the Blue Camp are concerned that Wu may draw fire for this.

Actually, many government leaders have run for elective office while holding on to their current positions. This really shouldn't be an issue. For example, In 1996, during the first direct presidential election, the ruling KMT nominated President Lee Teng-hui as its presidential candidate, and Premier Lien Chan as its vice presidential candidate. No one in the entire country objected. In 2000, during the second direct presidential election, Lee Teng-hui reached his term limits. The ruling Kuomintang nominated Vice President Lien Chan for president, and as his vice presidential running mate, Premier Vincent Siew. Again, no one in the entire country objected. The reason was simple. When challenged by an opposition party, the ruling party runs on its record. This is standard party politics. If one wishes to challenge the ruling party's performance record, who is one going to challenge, if not those currently in office?

The first ruling party change in 2000 was followed by the 2004 presidential election. The incumbents, Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu, formed a ticket and ran for re-election. Both had job responsibilities. But no one asked them to resign. If every time an election comes around, elective officials must resign, how can a nation's government continue to operate? The DPP ruled for eight years. It changed premiers six times. The "party princes" took turns serving as premier. This may have mollified the party princes. But it led to major policy failure during the party's eight years in power.

By the time of the 2008 presidential election, Chen and Lu had both reached their term limits. The DPP nominated two former premiers, Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang. To some extent this reflected the approach of the DPP party factions and party Elders. This enabled Chang Chun-hsiung, who had served as premier, to return to power. This allowed Hsieh and Su to dedicate themselves totally to the election campaign, and to avoid direct attacks by the KMT opposition in the legislature.

The affairs of the state should not be interrupted by elections. If a premier wishes to run for president, he may have to make appearances everywhere. But if he is merely the vice presidential candidate, the problem is not nearly so serious. After all, the vice presidency is merely a supporting role. The presidential candidate is the star of the show.

Of course, if the KMT or President Ma Ying-jeou feel that Wu Den-yih's candidacy makes him a target in the DPP's legislative campaign, it can ask him to resign. But that would be a political calculation. It would be irresponsible. As leaders of the ruling administration, Ma Ying-jeou's choice of Premier Wu as his running mate was motivated by his job performance. It was made to see whether the public approved of the Ma admininstration's job performance. This battle will be fought in the legislature.

From this perspective, the DPP has no reason to oppose or criticize Premier Wu's vice presidential bid. Instead, it should welcome it. Tsai Ing-wen and her running mate will be attending rallies all over Taiwan. Ma Ying-jeou's running mate, meanwhile, will be chained to the legislature, and attacked by DPP legislators from all sides. Any accomplishments cited by the KMT as part of it reelection bid, will be subject to harsh scrutiny in the Legislative Yuan. Wu Den-yih will have to stand on the front lines, and welcome the DPP's fire. If the Ma administration's job performance fails to win public approval, can Premier Wu and his cabinet resign en masse to take the blame? In other words, Wu Den-yih as vice presidential candidate, has become a member of Ma's election campaign. He is helping it formulate strategies and tactics. He is duty bound not to resign. He must become the Ma/Wu ticket's most eloquent champion.

Wu Den-yih is running while still in office. Could this lead to a violation of adminstrative neutrality? It could. But hopefully, it will not. For political appointees within the Executive Yuan, it is no problem whatsoever. Even if President Ma's running mate were not the premier, they would still be helping President Ma's reelection campaign. Suppose Wu Den-yih resigns, the premier is changed, and the cabinet is reshuffled? A newly appointed cabinet would need to get on track immediately, and trumpet the Ma administration's achievements. This has nothing to do administrative neutrality, and everything to do with party politics.

The DPP was in power for eight years. Consider the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. Which one of these did not involve the full marshalling of the ruling party's administrative resources? The Referendum to Enter the UN alone aroused controversy. But the DPP failed to engage in the slightest soul-searching.

Of course, just because the DPP did something wrong, does not mean that the KMT should be permitted to do it as well. For example, the Ma administration must not mobilize civil servants to campaign on its behalf, to wave flags, and to shout slogans. Still less can it divert government resources to underwrite election propaganda. Former Xinbei City Bureau of Civil Affairs Chief Li Chien Lung invited over one hundred township mayors, county chiefs, city mayors, and borough chiefs to lunch with Ma and Wu. This activity was held after working hours. The invited guests were township mayors, county chiefs, and city mayors. Strictly speaking, they were not civil servants. But since these offices are now appointive offices. discretion should be the watchword. The DPP has demanded prosecution. Li Chien-Long immediately resigned his position.

As soon as Premier Wu was confirmed as Ma's running mate, he announced that he would maintain strict political neutrality. He would make no illegal use of administrative resources. His campaigning would not create delays or obstacles to the implementation of government policy. Premier Wu said the DPP should not fear that he cannot deliver. Democracy on Taiwan is diversified. Questionable conduct cannot escape public notice. Premier Wu will of course not betray his commitments. He will not give the DPP an opportunity to discredit him.

帶職參選不是重點 政績才是關鍵
2011-06-25 中國時報












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