Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: End the disingenuous demagoguery

The swearing in of a new president is a national ceremony that should be wreathed in joy, but on the eve of the May 20 inauguration ceremony, the nation is filled with doubt and unease. Although President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) won with a minuscule margin, the announcement by the Central Election Commission was followed by the pan-blue alliance filing several lawsuits in an attempt to reverse the situation through judicial means. If the recount verifies the election of Chen, the legitimacy of his victory can no longer be questioned.

We have seen, however, several worrying signals, including the formation of a revolutionary group publicly calling for the murder of both former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen, rumors that remotely controlled model planes will break through security arrangements around the Presidential Office and bring destruction, warnings to foreign ambassadors to stay away from the ceremony and pan-blue suppporters saying that they will attack pan-green supporters. As a result, the political situation continues to be unstable.

The problem is not, in fact, that the election result was so close. The real problem is the lack of faith in democracy and distrust of the nation's legal system. The pan-blues, not wanting to concede the election, have instigated street demonstrations, filed lawsuits and tried to overturn the election results through extra-legal means.

Blue-camp politicians and media have also made constant provocations to stir up public dissatisfaction with the president. This confused some radicals to the point where they say they are willing to assassinate the president and "die a martyr's death" if necessary. Not only have the blue camp's unlimited protests endangered core democratic values, but they have also generated an outrageous idea among its supporters, who would rather destroy both their enemies and themselves than concede defeat.

The Taiwan High Court's recount of the ballots will begin on Monday. But the blue camp has never promised to accept the results, because the recount is merely an excuse. If they lose the recount, they will only have lost one lawsuit invalidating Chen's election. They can still continue their second lawsuit to have the whole election invalidated and try to launch constant public protests until the year-end legislative election. This is certainly in the interest of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜). Perhaps such a ploy is also beneficial to the PFP, but it's not necessarily good for the KMT. For Taiwan, it means that almost a full, precious year will be wasted, as everything will go up in smoke in the political war of words. Taiwan's international image and democracy will be damaged. It will even give China a good excuse to not respect Taiwan's democracy, not strengthen Hong Kong's democracy and not tolerate domestic democracy. For the sake of Taiwan's future, let the election dispute end with the judicial recount.

The inauguration will get the attention of the international community. Thousands of citizens, heads of state, and VIP guests will attend the ceremony. If anyone attempts to create commotion and ruin the ceremony, Chen and Lu will not be the only ones insulted -- all of Taiwan will be tarnished. If politicians or parties fail to understand the overall picture and ignore the national interest, they will be despised by the majority of people.

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