Tsai Ing-wen: Why Has Nothing Worked Out As She Planned?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 14, 2011
Summary: Tsai Ing-wen finds herself in a quandary. She finds herself bound hand and foot by the Green Camp, by the public on Taiwan, by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. No matter which way she turns, nothing seems to work out as she planned. What Tsai Ing-wen is saying and doing today, is clearly different from what she was saying and doing in April 2008. Destiny invariably trumps the will of the individual. Tsai Ing-wen cannot go back. But if she simply hardens her heart, and continues along her current path, where in the world will she find herself?
Full Text below:
In May 2008, Tsai Ing-wen was elected DPP chairman. In April this year, a mere three years later, she bacame the DPP's presidential nominee. Tsai Ing-wen seems like an overnight success. She seems to be leading a charmed life. But people are discovering that Tsai Ing-wen's bubbles have been burst, time and time again. The contrast between her swift rise and her current frustration is truly fascinating.
Rampant Chen regime corruption and rash moves toward Taiwan independence brought the DPP to its nadir. That was Tsai Ing-wen's cue to step forward. Her mission was to rescue the DPP from the clutches of the old order, and to formulate a sensible and workable cross-Strait policy. Her words and deeds led people to expect great things from her. She probably expected the same things from herself. But as she ascended the ladder to the presidency, her words, her deeds, and her image began to undergo change. Apparently her mission changed too. Is Tsai Ing-wen saying the same thing today that she said in April 2008?
In 2008, when Tsai Ing-wen first became party chairman, she attempted to sever relations with Chen Shui-bian. But today she finds herself stuck to him like a tar baby. She is forced to answer questions about whether if elected president she will pardon Chen Shui-bian. This has become a real problem for her. In 2008, Tsai Ing-wen hoped to sever relations with Chen Shui-bian, She hoped to take advantage of unfolding events to transform the Taiwan independence movement. Now however, she finds it impossible to rid herself of Chen Shui-bian. Worse still, Taiwan independence forces have become her main support. Think back to when Chen Shui-bian first ran for president. Esteemed "Consultants on National Policy" were still willing to lend their reputations to the regime. Now however, Tsai Ing-wen finds herself surrounded by the likes of Chen Shui-bian, Lee Teng-hui, Frank Hsieh, Koo Kwan-min, and other Taiwan independence zealots. Behind Tsai Ing-wen, one finds hordes of controversial figures. Perng Hui-nan turned her down. One cannot find a single new face around her. Was this really what she had in mind? Why has nothing worked out as she planned?
Nothing has worked out as she planned. Tsai Ing-wen would like to jettison Su Tseng-chang. But she can't. She does not want Su Chia-chuan as her vice presidential running mate. But she must settle for him regardless. Tsai Ing-wen's first choice for running mate was Perng Hui-nan or Lin Hsing-yi. But Perng Hui-nan and others were not eager to be drawn into the maelstrom. They had no desire to denounce the 1992 Consensus even as they reaffirmed ECFA. Perng Hui-nan might have consented to being another Tang Fei. But any change he could make would be more symbol than substance. Tsai Ing-wen came back to Su Tseng-chang as her running mate. But she was obviously doing everything possible to jettison him. On August 23, Tsai Ing-wen announced her "Taiwan Next: Platform for the Coming Decade." As a gesture, she invoked Su Tseng-chang's catchphrase, "Taiwanese consensus." On September 5, she floated the possibility of a "Tsai/Su meeting." She hoped media attention would force Su to accept her invitation. Nevertheless he refused. As a result, Tsai Ing-wen could neither jettison Su Tseng-chang nor recruit him. As we can see, Su Chia-chuan was not her first choice. But in the end, she was stuck with him. Here we must ask, why have none of Tsai Ing-wen's choices for running mate -- Perng Hui-nan, Su Tseng-chang, and Su Chia-chuan -- worked out as planned?
Tsai Ing-wen initially repudiated ECFA. Now she has no choice but to accept it. For her, this constitutes a major setback. For the past two years, Tsai Ing-wen catastrophically misjudged ECFA. She revealed her political myopia and blindness. She revealed her cross-Strait policy dilemma. Here again we must ask, Tsai Ing-wen hoped to repudiate ECFA. So why has nothing worked out as she planned?
Consider an even more important question. Tsai Ing-wen currently denounces the 1992 Consensus in no uncertain terms. Will this too fail to work out as she planned? Tsai Ing-wen can hardly rewind the clock, back to the beginning of the campaign, and recognize the 1992 Consensus. The question will have to wait until after the election. Will Tsai Ing-wen want to maintain cross-strait peaceful development? Will she want to maintain ECFA based cross-strait economic and trade exchanges? Beijing will use these to hold her hostage. Will she continue to insist that "The 1992 Consensus does not exist?"
When Tsai Ing-wen became DPP chairman in 2008, she declared that the Democratic Progressive Party was "an opposition political party with experience in governance," and that she would lead it accordingly. What she meant was that the DPP had been in power for eight years. Therefore it was aware of the trade-offs that have to made along the way. Therefore it would no longer make the same mistakes it did in the past. But in the three years since, Tsai Ing-wen has steadily ascended the ladder to the presidency. At the same time, she has been steadily regressing to where the DPP was eight years earlier. Not only has she not introduced anything new, she has made matters worse. Politically she has been unable to rid herself of the spectre of Chen Shui-bian, Lee Teng-hui, Frank Hsieh, Koo Kwan-min, and other Taiwan independence zealots. In cross-strait policy, by repudiating the 1992 Consensus, she has painted herself into a corner. Tsai Ing-wen never expected to paint herself into such a corner. So why has she repeatedly done just that?
Tsai Ing-wen finds herself in a quandary. She finds herself bound hand and foot by the Green Camp, by the public on Taiwan, and by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. No matter which way she turns, nothing seems to work out as she planned. What Tsai Ing-wen is saying and doing today, is clearly different from what she was saying and doing in April 2008. Destiny invariably trumps the will of the individual. Tsai Ing-wen cannot go back. But if she simply hardens her heart, and continues along her current path, where in the world will she find herself?