Mon, Nov 21, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Warm-up poll is crucial

The transformation from dictatorship less than two decades ago to today's democracy was the first surprise Taiwan gave the US.

Taiwan might now deliver a second surprise to the Americans by recovering from the growing pains its adolescent democracy is experiencing.

It's worth noting that these growing pains were brought on in large part by the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) exploitation of the US' "one China" policy in its quest for unification. It comes as no surprise that Taiwan could do with some change to the policy to ease unificationist pressure.

Nevertheless, whatever interest there is in the US in tweaking the "one China" policy would have to be backed by enormous local pro-sovereignty sentiment to have a reasonable chance of success.

Yet this is where Taiwan can give the US that second surprise: The pan-green camp could win the next legislative and presidential elections.

This would come about because the alternative would only lead to a fate unacceptable to most Taiwanese.

To be sure, this time around, the odds against Taiwanese producing this result may seem greater because the pan-blue camp and the Chinese Communist Party have formed a working relationship to oppose Taiwan's sovereignty and democracy.

One of this alliance's most dangerous maneuvers is the cross-strait peace advancement bill. It is in effect an attempt at initiating de facto unification while bypassing formal cross-strait negotiation. It's also a diabolical plot to rob the Taiwanese people of the right to informed consent in deciding the future of the country. Pan-blue legislators are, in effect, openly assaulting Taiwan's democracy.

The pan-blue leaders' unilateral disarmament effort -- as exemplified by the repeated blocking of the special arms-procurement bill and the pro-China media's daily use of propaganda and rumors -- also amounts to an attempt at debilitating Taiwan's physical and psychological defenses.

This three-pronged maneuver encompasses legislation, unilateral disarmament and propaganda, and is intended at crippling the US Taiwan Relations Act, in addition to crushing the Taiwanese people's confidence in the survival of their democracy. In turn, the alliance seems to believe this will ensure the pan-blue camp's victory in the next elections.

But the Taiwanese people can make sure that what actually unfolds will not follow that script.

For instance, the eagerness of the People First Party (PFP) to please its Beijing handlers by proposing the cross-strait peace advancement bill is placing KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in quite a bind.

For Ma, this bill is better left untouched until after the next presidential election. Taking up the bill at this time forces him to show his cards earlier than he would prefer.

What had been envisaged as a Trojan horse therefore looks increasingly likely to be a bill that will blow up in pan-blue leaders' faces instead.

Conversely, the bill might be a blessing in disguise for the pan-green camp, given that it is revealing the blueprint on how a 2008 pan-blue president would conduct cross-strait affairs. It could therefore evolve into issues around which the Taiwanese people can rally against Ma and the KMT.

Should the pan-green camp prevail in the elections for 2008, the Taiwanese people will have proclaimed anew their preference for democracy and sovereignty over collective autocracy and "unification."

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