The comment "You dare not pass it?" (好膽麥過) uttered by DPP Secretary-General Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) gives considerable food for thought. In a surreal way it was surprising, leaving one feeling as if one had come face-to-face with an ancestor straight out of the history books.
During its attempt to reverse the workweek legislation, the DPP was clearly in an inferior position. Even if its total number of seats in the legislature were recounted a hundred times, the DPP would still come up with fewer seats than the opposition alliance. And yet, if the two sides didn't try to kill each other, or at least spew invective at each other, it just wouldn't feel like Taiwan any more. Hence, the "You dare not pass it?" challenge by the DPP's secretary-general.
The DPP deserves to be called the first "local" political party. Its political personality was inherited honestly from its Taiwanese ancestors. In contrast to "mainlanders," these Taiwanese ancestors migrated to Taiwan during the Ching dynasty. The relationship between "local Taiwanese" and "mainlanders" is such that trivial matters are enough to touch off fighting between them.
The DPP's personality certainly can't be considered "composed" or "self-restrained." A thin layer of "loyalty" seems to emanate from its very being. Before winning the reins of power, this "loyalty" appeared to be not such a bad thing, serving as a foil to the lethargy and decay of the KMT and making the DPP appear vigorous and dynamic by comparison. No matter whether it was on street corners or in the Legislative Yuan, the DPP's highly vigorous method of practicing politics was eminently capable of venting the dissatisfaction felt by many members of the public.
If you're standing in a crowd, and you see a young person nearby shouting and jumping up and down, it can be an interesting diversion from the lackluster performance onstage. But, if the same youth is placed in the spotlight, the audience wants to see an excellent performance, not someone acting like the Eveready battery boy -- flapping around like he wants merely to vent his feelings.
In the past 10 months, a spirit of indulgence has spread among the DPP's big guns. Annette Lu lamented being the "deserted concubine." In front of another audience, President Chen Shui-bian said with resignation to Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) that if Lin were a woman, he would have chosen "her" as vice-president. To his long-time rival Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Chen said, in Hokklo (福佬), "The [presidential] election's over -- so what do you want to do about it?" Generally speaking, the DPP hasn't been able to display a stable, mature leadership style. Rather, it has used words much as daggers to attack the enemy -- and even colleagues -- repeatedly giving people an impression of superficiality and rashness.
On the tumultuous political stage, there isn't a politician who hasn't at one point been unhappy about something. The KMT has traditionally encouraged its members to keep any dissatisfaction concealed, and focus on preparations for behind-the scenes struggle. The DPP, however, is too much like our ancestors, openly calling attention to its unhappy state, unable to contain its emotions or refrain from fighting. The ancestors cursed their enemies with club in hand, while the DPP simply curses.
The DPP can be complimented on its primitive support for equality -- a quality it shares with its Taiwanese ancestors. Still, the past 10 months have proven that the DPP needs to take a hard look at itself, and reflect on how to improve upon its method of expressing indignation and anger. Otherwise, very soon it will revert to being the vigorous opposition. If that were to happen, the public would probably feel that the DPP got what it deserved.
Chen Ro-jinn is a freelance writer.
Translated by Scudder Smith
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