Mon, Jan 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Bringing an end to bitter politics

By Chiu Hei-yuan 瞿海源

There is too much hatred between Taiwanese politicians, and the public is also very clear on which politicians they hate and which they like. This is very negative for the nation's overall democratic development. I hope that Taiwan's politicians, particularly those in the highest positions, will abandon this tendency toward hatred. If they could love or hate with less intensity when mobilizing the public, that would be to the benefit of democracy as well as Taiwan.

Maybe former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is inept when it comes to managing and maintaining deeper relationships with close political allies. Maybe he was incapable of identifying with the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) political culture, or perhaps it was necessary due to political competition. Whatever the reason, des-pite Lee having had the opportunity to build deep and close relationships with many top KMT leaders it in the end all came to naught, making them deadly enemies instead .

Lee and James Soong (宋楚瑜) were said to be as close as father and son, but in the end they became estranged and even grew to hate each other. Lee and Lien Chan (連戰) were even closer. I don't know why Lee did all he could to promote Lien as soon as Lee took over the presidency, but the two became so close that they even set up a foundation bearing both their names, and in the end Lee's support of Lien led to a split between Lien and Soong.

In the blink of an eye, however, there was a clean break in the relationship between Lee and Lien, who failed to win the presidency. In addition, the open-hearted relationship between Lee and former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) was filled with hypocrisy. Lee also broke off relations with Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), and although circumstances are different, they no longer have any contact.

Such heartless political relationships and even the treatment of friendship as having no value is the most negative example of social relationships in Taiwan. Even worse, such nasty political relationships and hostility have become the main factors behind the unstable political situation.

Once hate relationships have formed among top leaders, each of these leaders finds public support. Parts of the public do all they can to support a certain politician, while they are filled with hate for his or her enemies among the other top leaders. Some enthusiastically support Lee and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and are filled with hate for Lien and Soong, or vice versa, just as they once swore loyalty unto death to the Chiang family.

These strong emotions, clearly a vestige of past authoritarian politics, have a negative impact on the development of democracy, and they promote political opposition and maybe even polarization. As a Chinese saying goes, "only the per-son who tied the bell around the tiger's neck can untie it," meaning that high political leaders should show concern for democratic and national development and eliminate these kinds of hostile, inappropriate and hateful relationships.

At the very least, they should stop abusing each other. They should be more active in ignoring past political favors and grudges, treat each other with sincerity and bring about an effective change in these inappropriate and nasty political relationships.

Chen has shown goodwill by proposing a joint group for discussing the composition of the new Cabinet, and lately it has seemed as if he intends to ask Soong to head the Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development. Lee has also displayed support for cooperation between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the People First Party (PFP). This may be a good opportunity to do away with the hatred between politicians.

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