Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Don't underestimate the electorate

On Monday, Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), director of the People First Party's (PFP) policy center, and Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), convener of the party's legislative caucus, said that no clear purpose had been stated for more than NT$100 billion in the government's proposed budget for next year. They questioned whether the Executive Yuan plans to funnel money into an "818 program" to fund President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election campaign. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers also claimed that Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) was the convener of the "818 program."

In the face of such serious accusations, voters should be looking forward to some concrete evidence from the KMT and PFP to back up their accusations, exposing the Democratic Progressive Party government's attempts to engage in illegal activities and allowing the people to condemn such a party and government. However, the KMT and the PFP must not treat the electorate like a plaything, or believe that they can lash out at the ruling party about fabricated issues. Nor should they think that the electorate has a short memory or can be easily fooled by such rumors. They should not forget the wisdom of the electorate.

Taiwan's political arena has been overshadowed by muckraking since the country entered a new phase in democratic politics by holding its first direct presidential election in 1996. Such a phenomenon, which can seriously threaten Taiwan's democratic foundations and development, is especially obvious in the Legislative Yuan. The reason for this is that legislators frequently abuse their constitutional immunity to make the most unimaginable accusations against their political enemies on the legislative floor. This vicious habit, which has existed since the days of martial law, has not changed a bit. It only gets worse during election time. The legislators do not look for evidence. They only look for what is sensational.

The legislature is still brimming with such legislators. One absurd example is a PFP legislator who once held press conferences several days in a row to accuse Chen of receiving campaign funds totaling several million US dollars from then Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) before the 2000 election. She did not shut up until her party chairman told her to. Apparently, the legislature has become the biggest source of turmoil in society. The legislature has arrived at a point where it has to be reformed.

Such ludicrous accusations are simply unbelievable. Therefore, we hope they are not something made up by the KMT and the PFP to shift public attention away from the TaipeiBank-Fubon merger uproar. The KMT and the PFP should present evidence and expose the Executive Yuan's deviant behavior. Otherwise, they will set a very unwholesome example by tarnishing the premier's reputation on the basis of imagined crimes. If they cannot back up their accusations, the two opposition parties should apologize to the Executive Yuan and the people of Taiwan for such baseless accusations.

At the same time, the electorate should keep its eyes wide open and use its wisdom to evaluate what each of the parties are saying and doing. They should not support parties that try to usurp power by way of deception or muckraking. Only then can the people of Taiwan avoid the pains of democracy and taste its benefits.

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