There is a certain amusing irony in KMT Legislator Chang Shou Wen (張碩文) being battered with a mobile phone in the middle of a debate on -- of all things -- the national communications bill. What next? A Monty Python farce where lawmakers slap each other with fish or pelt each other with rotten fruit over the farming and fisheries bills?
At least, this would be amusing if it weren't for the fact that this clown-like behavior is scrutinized by the international community at a time when Taiwan's image is at its most fragile, and support for Taiwan's valid and vital bid for sovereignty is at a low ebb.
As Michael Turton pointed out (Letters, Oct. 12, page 8), a long-term strategy of the pan-blues is to make Taiwan appear ungovernable and incapable of running its own affairs.
One of their tactics to this end is to ensure that any democratic debate degenerates into an impasse or, better still, disorder. All lawmakers who engaged in violence on Tuesday were guilty of disgraceful conduct, regardless of their political hue, but for the DPP to allow themselves to even become involved seems to be a stunning own goal.
The finger-pointing by both sides over who actually started Tuesday's incident is reminiscent of playground fisticuffs and not worthy of discussion or coverage. Violence was pre-meditated by lawmakers on all sides. Reports on Monday in the media stated that the KMT had suggested that their members come "combat ready" in "karate suits," while PFP members turned up in military uniforms.
The DPP recommended "loose fitting clothing and sneakers." Though the DPP's sartorial advice for parliament is slightly less silly than martial-arts outfits and a good deal less sinister than army fatigues, their choice of attire was nevertheless intended as preparedness for Tuesday's scuffles.
In the face of provocation by the pan-blues, it would be better for the DPP to require that its members maintain dignity and uphold elementary democratic principles, instead of urging them to come to parliament ready for a dust-up.
Some from all sides of the debate may think that a Punch and Judy-style legislature holds some bizarre entertainment value for the electorate, diverting attention from the far more pedestrian issue of actually pushing through tangible reforms.
But the real danger of allowing violence to play any part in democratic deliberation is that when consensus is achieved at the end of a baseball bat, or the barrel of a gun, this is only turning Taiwan into a classic example of a "failed state."
It is often claimed that Taiwan is a youthful democracy undergoing a transformation into maturity. Tuesday's incidents give ammunition to Taiwan's enemies, who charge that the development of the Taiwan's democracy appears to have been arrested at the kindergarten stage.
Presenting such an image to an already indifferent international community can only hasten the day when China appears on the scene and makes Taiwan stand in the corner with a pointy hat on. And then everybody will be very sorry indeed.
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