Mon, Mar 07, 2005 - Page 8 News List

The clock is ticking for both Chen and Hsieh

By Antonio Chiang 江春男

Following the Chen-Soong summit, many pro-independence heavyweights feel they were duped, or even betrayed and double-crossed. Although they may not have any concrete criticism of the 10-point agreement reached by both President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), they feel deeply hurt.

Seeing the leaders of both camps reconcile and embrace, they suddenly felt that they had been fooled -- a very natural reaction.

Before, Chen dare not speak to the public about the reality of the situation in China and the international community toward Taiwan's independence. But now, he has turned around and is criticizing others for deceiving themselves. The 180-degree change in Chen's attitude is hard to commend.

The consensus reached by Chen and Soong is just a return to the fundamentals of the problem facing the nation, which is hardly surprising. Issues regarding how the Republic of China (ROC) is defined, constitutional reform and cross-strait relations have been discussed so many times.

But it seems that this consensus is only now being taken seriously. As a result, some have panicked while others have overreacted.

Political power distorts one's personality and image. This is also true of both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Soong. The similarities between both of them are far greater than they are willing to admit.

Over the past four years, Chen has taken the initiative to push all sorts of causes, and has tested all sorts of limits. He has played the role of a reformer or pioneer, and has placed himself on the front lines of the causes he wishes to promote.

As a result, the opposition party has behaved like a conservative governing party, while the governing party has behaved like a radical opposition party.

The party that was supposed to be focusing its attention on managing the country behaved as if it was engaging in a social movement, while those active in social movements behaved as if they were running the country with the government.

In addition, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) also sees himself as the nation's protector.

This type of blurring of roles should not have happened in democratic politics.

In democratic politics, each political party has a role to play. These roles are confused if one demands that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) continue to play the role of tangwai (outside the KMT).

The dark-green Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), meanwhile, should distance itself from the DPP in order to exert a deeper influence in Taiwan, while the DPP should only focus on implementing the consensus already reached by our society.

The "deep-green" backlash to the 10-point consensus reached by Chen and Soong is going to have a substantial impact on the legislature and the year-end county commissioner elections, and thus Chen might have a better chance to follow a "middle of the road" approach to govern the nation. However, the PFP's actions in the legislature and the prospects for a cross-strait detente will also have an impact on the development of the inter-party reconciliation.

Chen does not have much time to waste. The clock is ticking. With Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) just having taken office and Chen in his second and last term, both of them have to do their best to achieve something. Otherwise, the next few years will once again have been a total waste of time.

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