Middle-Aged DPP Supporters Express Reservations about Tsai Ing-wen
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 17, 2011
Summary: Recently, middle-aged DPP members have repeatedly expressed reservations about Tsai Ing-wen. Former legislator Julian Kuo said Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy is "too abstract." Former MAC Vice Chairman You Ying-long said that an election campaign without Chen Shui-bian is "very boring." You also criticized current party leaders, saying they failed to inspire a "sense of pride" among the people of Taiwan. Former Chen Shui-bian Office Director Chen Song-shan was even more blunt. He said Tsai Ing-wen's "Plaftorm for the Coming Decade" is probably a "hollow political platform."
Full Text below:
Recently, middle-aged DPP members have repeatedly expressed reservations about Tsai Ing-wen. Former legislator Julian Kuo said Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy is "too abstract." Former MAC Vice Chairman You Ying-long said that an election campaign without Chen Shui-bian is "very boring." You also criticized current party leaders, saying they failed to inspire a "sense of pride" among the people of Taiwan. Former Chen Shui-bian Office Director Chen Song-shan was even more blunt. He said Tsai Ing-wen's "Plaftorm for the Coming Decade" is probably a "hollow political platform."
That middle-aged Green Camp supporters have expressed such doubts about Tsai Ing-wen is not surprising. In fact, those outside the Green Camp have long felt that Tsai Ing-wen is guilty of "policy ambiguity." They voiced many of these same criticisms long ago. Now these same doubts are being voiced within the Green Camp. Now the public sees how anxious and conflicted middle-aged DPP supporters feel. Some middle-aged DPP supporters are even openly expressing "nostalgia" for Chen Shui-bian. They are clearly far more conflicted about the direction Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP are taking than the general population.
Tsai Ing-wen joined the party relatively recently, in 2004. She never participated in the street protests and violent clashes during the DPP's wild days. She has no trouble drawing a line between herself and that period of DPP history. Therefore, in the eyes of the general public, she has a unique appeal. This chairman has been a party member for only seven years. She is about to name a mysterious person with no party affiliation as her vice presidential runnng mate. Suppose the two are lucky enough to win next year? Will the Democratic Progressive Party be hijacked by these two strangers? This is a concern shared by many within the Green Camp. Even Taiwan independence elder Koo Kuan-min objects to Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy, saying it "lacks content." Clearly the vacuum at the heart of Tsai Ing-wen's political platform has many people worried. The Blue Camp has Blue Camp worries. The Green Camp has Green Camp worries.
Tsai Ing-wen's vagueness and ambiguity is puzzling. What exactly is her problem? Is it that she "does not want to express her position?" Or is it that she simply "cannot express her position?" Is she maintaining a low profile merely to leave as much room as possible for the imagination? Or is she remaining ambiguous merely to avoid criticism and to avoid provoking a backlash inside and outside the party? If so, her lack of specificity is understandable. But perhaps her lack of specificity is merely high-profile posturing. Perhaps her campaign committee cannot think of a reasonable response? If so, her artful dodging deserves the epithet, "kong xin cai," or "hollow at the center Tsai," a pun on the word for water spinach. Real world evidence suggests the latter is more likely.
Over the past few days, a number of middle-aged DPP insiders have attacked Tsai Ing-wen. This phenomenon is worth pondering. Tsai Ing-wen won her party's nomination through fierce competition. She forced the party princes and Taiwan independence elders into silence. But many party insiders were part of the student movement. They consider themselves war veterans. To win votes, the DPP is afraid to say what it stands for. They consider this intolerable. Worst of all, they have been sidelined during the campaign. They cannot hear what plays the coach is shouting. They cannot see the numbers on the green flag. Naturally they are plagued with doubts.
These middle-aged DPP supporters are expressing reservations about Tsai Ing-wen. One point must not be ignored. During their conversations they have expressed nostalgia for Chen Shui-bian. They feel Tsai Ing-wen is less able to rally the troops than Chen Shui-bian. Julian Kuo said that Tsai Ing-wen's "policy is hazy, voters are few, and the mood is indifferent." He said she should study "A-Bian's Art of War," and generate a little excitement. You Ying-long was more blunt. He said "Chen Shui-bian enabled the people of Taiwan to feel proud, very proud." He said those who control the party machinery, but who distance themselves from Ah-Bian, are "definitely lost, confused people. They are people who are holding Taiwan back from its destiny."
We do not know why Tsai Ing-wen has failed to win the hearts of these middle-aged DPP insiders. But You Ying-long's remarks suggest that three years in the political wilderness has taught the DPP nothing. Chen Shui-bian was notorious for his rampant corruption and disastrous policies. How could You Ying-long possibly boast that Chen Shui-bian enabled the people of Taiwan to feel proud? He could only do so by totally blanking out Chen Shui-bian's crimes against the people. Elections in which Chen Shui-bian ran as a candidate may have been "more interesting." But lest we forget, Chen Shui-bian's campaign approach was "winning is everything, therefore win by any means available." He ignored the consequences, and the price paid by society. If DPP insiders are still waxing nostalgic over those days, what does that say about the future of our democracy?
A wave of criticism against Tsai has been followed by a wave of nostalgia for Ah-Bian. This suggests a sense of loss among these middle-aged DPP insiders. They cannot forget the glory days, when they followed Chen Shui-bian into battle. But they have also blanked out the shame and dishonor Chen Shui-bian brought upon their party. They wring their hands. They fear the DPP has lost its direction. But in their desperation they seek answers in the wrong places. In fact, the problem is not limited to middle-aged DPP insiders. This is a problem that plagues the DPP as a whole. Tsai Ing-wen's prevarication and equivocation, also reflect this problem.
Middle-aged Green Camp supporters have reservations about Tsai Ing-wen. In fact, everyone in the DPP seeks answers to this problem. But unless they can be honest about their eight years of corruption and scandal, answers will not be forthcoming.
2011.08.17 03:03 am