Lien Chan stuck in the past
Chinese Nationalist Party Chair-man Lien Chan's (連戰) recent remarks emphasize the stark differences between his mindset and that of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). In England, he advocated a new "one China" policy under the Republic of China (ROC). He draws inspiration from a Tang dynasty poet who demanding personal loyalty of officials to the emperor. He eulogized Soong Mayling (蔣宋美齡), Madame Chiang, in New York by praising her efforts to "battle against totalitarianism and
Lien's mindset seems stuck on mid-20th century China and not on present day Taiwan.
In contrast, Chen demonstrates a different perspective. His remarks during his recent trip to the Americas focused on human rights, democracy and a place for Taiwan in the international community. Taiwanese will have to decide next March whether they want a president who will lead them to a mythical nostalgic past or one who focuses on present-day, 21st century Taiwanese issues.
Vicious attack on free speech
I am a US citizen who has spent most of the past 20 years in Taiwan. I do not have the right to vote here, and do not support any local political party. How-ever, the events and images of the past few days have been so disturbing that I must speak out.
In the midst of the controversy over negative advertising and CD-ROMs featuring both pan-blue and pan-green political candidates (not to mention the excitement over Taiwan's baseball team), many people here seem to have missed a disturbing new trend: vicious and coordinated attacks on free speech, which have the potential to take Taiwan right back to 1979 and the Kaohsiung Incident.
When the pan-blue camp files a lawsuit against former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and even the actors involved in making a VCD attacking People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and his colleagues, and when Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) threatens to sue to the DPP over a negative ad, these actions show a frightening lack of respect for free speech, however distasteful it may be.
Moreover, when a PFP legislator, accompanied by representatives of the Taipei City Gov-ernment, leads the police in a series of raids aimed at confiscating copies of said VCD, any-one who knows even a little bit about Taiwan's modern history will immediately begin to think that we have returned to the dark days of dictatorship.
Even if this VCD is in some way illegal, there are thousands of illegal and/or pirated CD-ROMs, DVDs, VCDs, etc floating around Taiwan's markets. Why confiscate just this one? The answer is obvious: because it offends the pan-blue leadership. In Taiwan, this is usually called "selectively prosecuting a case."
The fact Soong and Ma are among the leading actors in this drama is particularly ironic. Don't they remember what their enemies have so often accused them of having done during the 1970s, when Soong was in charge of the Government Information Office and any voices of opposition were being suppressed because they were in some way "illegal" or "seditious?"
In today's democratic socie-ties, political figures are frequently the targets of all manner of criticism.
When Ronald Reagan was US president, he was attacked unmercifully by left-leaning members of the entertainment industry. When former US president Bill Clinton was embroiled in the Lewinsky scandal, everyone had a field day spoofing him. Did either of these leaders sue their antagonists or order records of these attacks to be confiscated? To the best of my knowledge, no.