Tue, May 10, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Greens must unite to save reforms

In an interview Sunday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said he had information that People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) met with Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) when he travelled to the US earlier this year. TAO reportedly tried to pressure Washington at that time to consider what it said would be the serious repercussion of this Saturday's National Assembly elections.

China believes that the attempt to abolish the assembly and write referendums into the Constitution are part of a plot to achieve de jure independence. It hopes Washington and Taiwan's opposition parties can stop the elections. Through its invitations to opposition leaders, Beijing has them to oppose Taiwan's official policies and foment political chaos. At the same time, it is also trying to influence Taiwan's domestic affairs through international pressure. The use of this two-pronged strategy cannot be overlooked.

In inviting both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Soong, Beijing is pursuing a "united front" strategy and triggering China fever and causing dissatisfaction over Taiwan's China policy. Now that he has established a platform for communication between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Lien is even more estranged from Chen. Relations between Chen and Soong have also suffered, despite the 10-point consensus that they reached in February.

There is also a rift between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union due to Chen's flipflops in China policy and the DPP's stance on single-district, two-ballot electoral system. Opinion polls show a sharp decline in the DPP's popularity, creating a grave political crisis.

This crisis is the direct result of Chen's failure to maintain a clear line regarding "Taiwan awareness." He broke his campaign promise about changing the nation's name and drafting a new constitution, thereby splitting the green camp. His repeated U-turns on policy have left DPP members at a loss. This has led to internal pressure that could split the party. Chen must take the political responsibility for this.

In a bid to salvage the DPP's chances in Saturday's elections, Chen has been trying to clarify his positions -- even while making yet another U-turn to condemn both Lien and Soong. Whether his efforts at this late date will be enough to help the pan-greens overcome the pan-blue camp and their substantial relations with Beijing is anyone's guess.

Although the DPP and the TSU are divided over "single-member districts," they agree upon the need to abolish the National Assembly, the inclusion of the right of referendum in the Constitution and other major issues. This is relevant to Taiwan's constitutional development. Beijing is greatly concerned over the assembly elections and is using its considerable influence to affect it, so Taiwan's politicians must be wary of China's tricks.

After Chen has rallied his DPP colleagues, the party should engage in high level dialogue with the TSU and bring an end to its current self-destructive conflict. At all costs they must avoid letting constitutional reform collapse in the final stretch.

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