Thu, Jan 25, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Politicizing Taiwan society does no good

By Nan Fang-shuo 南方朔

A new year doesn't really begin until Chinese New Year has passed. Now that the new year is here, people are hoping that with the new spring, all the gloom will be completely swept away, replaced by a breath of fresh air.

But will everything change for the better now that the Chinese New Year is over? I'm afraid that's something nobody can guarantee. Taiwan in 2001 will be even more politically charged, even more turbulent. The ruling handed down by the Grand Justices regarding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四) is but an advance notice of things to come. Indeed, it is difficult to predict what changes will happen in Taiwan during the coming year.

Taiwan's instability is on the rise. The main reason for this is because we've already become something rarely seen in the world -- a "politicized society." No one listens to reason, everything is based on which way the winds of politics are blowing. And when the wind's direction is uncertain, everyone goes and plays hypocritical, ambiguous, evasive -- and clever -- word games.

And in these games, one could say that our Grand Justices are outstanding players. They didn't state that the nuclear plant was "unconstitutional" or "constitutional," but rather slipped by with the wording "procedural flaws." During the recent US presidential election controversy, on a question unable to be resolved by political means, US Supreme Court judges made a resolute decision that transcended political parties. Our Grand Justices, however, took everything back to the beginning, continuing to allow the political parties to wrestle each other over the issue.

Thus, once the new year has begun, I'm afraid that conflicts regarding the power plant issue will continue to erupt. Will it be resolved? The answer probably is "impossible." The issue will continue to drag on, remaining unanswered until after the legislative elections.

Everything in Taiwan must follow political power. The Constitution, law, values, right and wrong -- all are mere footnotes to political power. Unless the DPP can become the majority political power in the upcoming elections, it will be impossible to end the chaos.

Thus, after the new year, Taiwan will inevitably become even more political. Some parties are planning to become the new "majority," while some want to break up this "majority." In other countries, democracy has democratic substance, but in Taiwan, democracy is merely the process of struggle between new and old "majorities." As a real majority is unlikely to appear, our chaos cannot but continue. As to what will become of Taiwan if a real majority does appear -- that's an even greater mystery.

We can look forward to a very politicized year. Before the year-end legislative elections, in the prevailing chaos, the "spitting wars" (口水戰) will increase. By the same token, because Beijing-Washington politics are still uncertain, Taiwan will just continue to generate new slogans on the cross-strait issue.

Or maybe this is just the fate of a politicized society. When everything in a society is decided by political power and few believe that anything -- such as history, values, or a universal sense of right and wrong -- has any significance, that society will be perpetually unable to resolve problems such as rudeness, unreasonable behavior and "spitting wars." Compared to these problems, so-called economic, stock market and social issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

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