Thu, May 12, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Lack of leadership killing Taiwan

Taiwan is facing a political situation that is not without its ironies. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has joined hands with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to isolate President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) while, on the domestic front there is bloody inter-party strife. China doesn't need to do much more to create all-out political chaos in Taiwan. Meanwhile, resentment against KMT Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) selling out Taiwan is building and could burst forth at any time. Is the US, which has sought to promote cross-strait peace at any cost, satisfied to see Taiwan bleeding and China gloating?

Worst of all, a beleaguered Chen, the pillar of "Taiwan consciousness," has begun lashing out at his allies and comrades. People are looking for comfort and many have turned to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the "spiritual leader" of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). All the recent talk of cross-strait reconciliation seems to have forced moderate pan-green supporters to adopt the more extreme position.

The situation could get even more thrilling. People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing today. Who knows what tricks Hu has up his sleeve, or how Soong might respond? If Soong follows Lien's example of rolling over for Hu, domestic divisions might deepen. The Uriah Heep-like subservience of opposition leaders to China can only spark resentment from those who uphold "Taiwan consciousness." Already there are many on pro-independence Internet forums advocating an acceptance of war, if that's what it takes, to realize Taiwan's future.

The recent wave of "China fever" has revealed an amazing amount of spinelessness among the nation's politicians. Lien has proven his willingness to lick Beijing's boots while Chen's inability to strategize and his constant flipflopping and waffling have proven to be his Achilles' heel. Both men have proven they care more for power than this nation and that neither has what it takes to be a statesman.

It's hard to believe that Soong has any admirable qualities, but at least he has dared to talk in China about the Republic of China (ROC) that he believes in, something Lien was too lily-livered to do. Of course, Soong could end up prostrating himself before Hu today.

The only person who has remained consistent is Lee. Now that Chen has revealed his feet of clay, Lee is the only champion of "Taiwan consciousness." His basic position on the cross-strait issue has remained unchanged -- in office and out -- even if some of the details have changed.

But this is no consolation when with the National Assembly elections just two days away. If the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) loses votes to the TSU, then reform of the legislature, of which the DPP has been such a strong proponent, will come to nothing. The TSU is unlikely to support changes detrimental to the survival of small political parties like itself. The final result of Taiwan's "China fever" will then not only be the collapse of the DPP hopes for legislative reform, but continued paralysis for the administration.

And what will happen when Chen's position becomes untenable? If the opposition gains an even greater advantage in Saturday's elections this can only delight China. The real casualty of Chen's political demise will be the nation's democracy.

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