Letters: - Taipei Times
Fri, Oct 17, 2003 - Page 8 News List


Know what could be lost

In some respects, next year's presidential election is as important as the first direct presidential election, if not more so. It is not because new ground is being broken, or new directions adopted, or even because new principles will be pressed or heralded. No, this election is more important for what will remain the same, as for what will change. It is the last best chance to preserve the status quo, which, looking at Hong Kong and Tibet, is pretty damn good.

Clearly, as the early party strategies appear to have been formulated, a vote for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) slate carries with it the high risk of unification with China (the greatest proof of this risk is that no KMT official has yet to deny this is part of the KMT platform).

While it is true that a vote for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) carries with it the risk that some provocative statement or act will further erode the non-relationship with China, in the long run, it is likely Taiwan will retain its independence only if the Democratic Progressive Par-ty (DPP) is returned to power.

However, the problem with the election is not the choices so much as the overwhelming apathy of the electorate. Tai-wan's populace appears to have adopted either the fatalistic approach (whatever happens happens), or the "all I want is to earn a good living" approach, which is of course riddled with peril, as it is both shortsighted and a disservice to the generations that follow.

Many say there is no hope in supporting Chen because his economic policies were a disaster (ignoring the fact the entire world's economy has been crawling out of a hole for his entire incumbency), and that supporting him would result in further isolation from China and the world.

Many see promises by the KMT of a bright economic future with China (likely as a new "special administrative region."), even whispering that "it wouldn't be so bad to be part of China." The KMT is pandering to the baser side of politics, to the basic instinct to gather wealth. It is tantamount to buying loyalty with promises of sugarplums.

It is alarming that the average citizen may not truly appreciate the rights and freedoms available to them which are now routinely taken for granted. These include the freedoms of press, TV, radio, Internet, movies and culture, protection of human rights, including the freedoms of religion and political affiliation, and the right to travel and move about freely (subject of course to any unreasonable limitations imposed by the posturing and blackmail by China of various nations).

Nor does the average citizen appear to appreciate the significance of the right to choose the future of Taiwan through a presidential election. Over 1 billion Chinese are disenfranchised. They are ruled by a handful of old men who sit in a dark room and decide the political future of one-sixth of the world's population. The government those men design regularly deprives the Chinese populace of human rights, freedom and free thought and beliefs (and Taiwan itself is not so long from its own brand of tyranny). This virus of oppression has crept into Hong Kong, and has been boiling in Tibet for decades.

That China wishes to export the virus to Taiwan is beyond doubt. The question is whether voters have the courage and determination to make a stand as they did in the last election, and say "no" to the path gilded with gold and laden with tears and tyranny, and opt for another term of de facto independence with the DPP. One can only hope the thirst for freedom prevails over the cries of wolf from the KMT, and its loathsome quest for power at the price of democracy.

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