Fri, Sep 23, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Division brings us together

By Chen Yi-chien

New Zealand's ruling party won a neck-and-neck general election by one seat last Saturday, but will need the support of minor parties to form a government.

After Sunday's inconclusive election, Germany is facing a similar situation. The conservatives (Christian Democrats) led by Angela Merkel, beat Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats by three seats in the new Bundestag. Germany is now rife with speculation about what kind of coalition government will be possible.

The Taiwanese know the situation well. Last March, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won a second term in the presidential election by a margin of 0.2 percent of the vote. Is this a coincidence or a new fashion in power struggle?

I could not agree more with Hsu Yung-ming's (徐永明) position ("Breaking deadlock up to the people," Sept. 19, page 8). But I wish that as intelligent and far-sighted as Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is, he should -- and must -- ? find a way out of this deadlock. Most people in Taiwan are sick of the endless meaningless circus-like fights in the Legislative Yuan and the government's inability to rule.

What divides us now binds us together. The nation is at a crossroads. The answer lies in the Taiwanese people rather than in politicians without a vision.

There are actions people can take. Do not wait till the end of the year. First, call your legislators and tell them how upset you are. If they do not listen, punish the political parties they belong to in the year-end mayoral and county commissioner elections.

Second, pay a visit to any of the non-governmental organizations (NGO), whether it is Awakening Organization (specializing in women's rights issues), Judicial Reform Foundation, Taiwan Human Rights Association, Gender/Sexuality Rights Association, Consumers Protection Association or other NGOs; whether it is race, gender, class, or environment-related issues, many NGOs work very hard on substantial issues on a daily basis. When the government does not function, an NGO is the alternative.

Be aware of the ongoing grassroots constitutional movement and be a part of it. We need a politics of transformation that has yet to take form. Taiwan needs a constitutional framework which would allow that to happen soon. If no politician (from either camp) has a blueprint for reform that goes beyond the immediate concerns of the 2008 presidential election, then the Taiwanese people need to face reality: what divides us now binds us together again.

This indeed will be the greatest challenge to Taiwan's democracy.

Chen Yi-Chien

Taipei

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