Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Democracy's first step begins now

Twenty-five years ago, a group of death-defying tang-wai (outside the party) democracy activists organized a large demonstration in Kaohsiung City to call for democracy and freedom in Taiwan and demand that the government end martial law, lift the ban on establishing new newspapers, end the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion (動員戡亂時期臨時條款) and allow a comprehensive re-election of the legislature. Treating the demonstration as a riot, the government suppressed it and sent many of the participants to prison. It became a turning point for democracy in Taiwan -- the Kaohsiung Incident.

Today, 25 years later, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has returned to the site to hold another demonstration. The past democratic demands have now been implemented, making up the backbone of Taiwan's legal and political system. The tang-wai group founded the DPP and has now moved into government, and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) -- at the time one of the defense lawyers for the participants in the demonstration -- has become president. The persecutor, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has splintered into the KMT, the People First Party (PFP), and the New Party and moved into opposition.

Has the passage of time brought full social justice? No. The KMT is still sitting on over NT$10 billion in party assets resulting from the party's past direct access to the national treasury, and it is still in possession of many media outlets and several enterprises that enjoy special privileges. Lien Chan (連戰) and James Soong (宋楚瑜), both numbered among the persecutors at the time of the Kaohsiung Incident, remain securely in charge of the KMT and the PFP, and the pan-blue camp still holds a legislative majority, engaging in uninterrupted interference with the government's policies, preventing it from governing fully. The last mile on the road toward democracy in Taiwan still lies ahead, and must be completed by its people.

Today, while standing in front of the ballot box, block out the noise of campaigns. Ignore the various deceptive statistics, vote allocation, and the dump-save strategy. Ignore the politician's tricks of "weeping, kneeling and buying votes," and think about which of the politicians in your district has stood out. Whose face do you remember? Whose political background and policy proposals have touched your heart? If you do not have a candidate in mind, then carefully consider the path traveled by democracy in Taiwan, the development of human rights, the contributions of the DPP and the role played by the KMT.

Think about how your life has been in recent years. If it hasn't matched your expectations, is this because the government hasn't worked hard enough on your behalf? Or is it because of obstruction of the government's policies, which has made progress very difficult? In the future, do you want a government that can really rule, or do you want a continuation of a situation in which the government is blocked by a powerful opposition? Do you want a future in which Taiwan consciousness will be emphasized? Or do you want to see Taiwan more and more reliant on China?

The answer should be clear. Taiwan needs a government that is in step with the wishes of the people, that is both efficient and has clear lines of accountability. If this is what we want, then give the green camp a clear majority.

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