Tue, Jun 14, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Democracy in jeopardy

By Liang Hong-ming

Taiwan may be one of the few places in the free world where politicians regularly utter patently inconsistent positions and are not challenged by reporters.

This has allowed a steady blowback among reactionary forces, clustering around former benefactors and enablers to the Chiang family dictatorship. At its most dangerous, this lapdog mentality among journalists enables major opposition party leaders to travel to an avowed enemy nation and surrender Taiwan's sovereignty with impunity.

On another level, it also leads to repeated sensational cases of fabricated news -- the latest being the People First Party (PFP) councilor and his lies about funeral food resold into the market.

If the journalists at the mostly blue newspapers -- the United Daily News and the China Times -- or the mostly blue electronic media, behave as journalists with a memory, with rational minds and with logic, then the latest pan-blue outcry vis-a-vis fishing disputes with Japan would be an interesting test case.

Let's first separate the actual event and the politics of it. Taiwan has overlapping boundaries with the nations of Japan, China, the Philippines and, if you count the rocks in the South China Sea, Vietnam and Indonesia. No one is against the government standing firm, using force if necessary, to protect our people from foreign forces.

But lapdog journalism has allowed pan-blue politicians to practice the finest examples of self-contradictory politics. The same politicians in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the PFP that have blocked long-sought military equipment lest Taiwan be strong enough to resist forced unification through a Chinese invasion, are also the same politicians that then turn around and criticize the government for not acting strongly enough against Japan.

The hypocrisy is simply mind-boggling. The easy pass by journalists must be envied by politicians the world over. If only life were so easy for us all.

But the hypocrisy of pan-blue politicians and journalists runs even deeper. There is this psychotic attachment by the far right (or is it far left? It's hard to tell nowadays in Taiwan) to the barren rocks they call Diaoyutai. Taipei's reactionary Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) cut his teeth as a Diaoyutai activist after all. Diaoyutai symbolizes everything idiotic about nationalism which theorists have postulated -- it's psychological, imagined, symbolic and ultimately it means very little.

Again, let's be clear -- the waters overlapping with Japan we need to protect; the disposition of that rock, our relationship with Japan as a potential ally in a war against China, the negotiations for how to settle the fishing/border disputes -- that's complex, and many things have to be weighed up. But for the pan-blues, this is about Japan and World War II and all the rest of it.

Well fine, let's for the moment lean over backward and play lapdogs ourselves, and take the pan-blue politicians at face value. Let's assume that they do love our fishermen, they do care about the foreign menace and that they do want to protect Taiwan's borders.

Isn't it interesting then that during this same period, media reports have indicated that Chinese fishermen have routinely invaded the territorial waters of Taiwan around the Pratas (Dongsha) islands? That Chinese fishing vessels have routinely invaded Taiwanese waters around Kinmen and Matsu? Or, even worse, that Chinese intelligence-spy vessels have steadily prodded and pushed Taiwan proper?

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