Sat, Dec 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: DPP should stay the course

By Huang Jei-hsuan

Following the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) overwhelming victory over the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the recent county and municipal elections, some of the international media predicted that the KMT would succeed in forcing their pro-unification agenda through both the legislative and the executive branches of the government.

But the election results far more likely reflected a myriad of local factors, rather than voters' rejection of Taiwan's continuing democratization. In other words, the result may have signaled widespread dissatisfaction with the conduct of the messengers, but hardly of the message of democratization itself.

Still, this clarification mitigates neither the burden of a resounding defeat on the DPP, nor the crisis the defeat entails.

In reality, one of the first consequences of the elections was a clarion call from the public for top-to-bottom reform of the DPP. This was accompanied by a chorus of demands to further "deregulate" cross-strait relations.

There is no doubt that the DPP needs reform. After all, a political party's primary function is to perform well in elections. Every time there is a colossal failure, reform is a must.

Nevertheless, it is reasonable to question whether a party, with a leadership prone to factional squabbles is capable of truly transforming itself, without having the efforts disintegrate into endless recriminations, further aggravating the crisis.

Alternatively, perhaps a team of outside experts should be assembled to look into the existing structures and come up with recommendations for changes. One of the important questions that begs for an answer is how to remain competitive in local politics without emulating the KMT's culture of corruption.

Regarding cross-strait relations, what the KMT is offering focuses on short-term benefits, at the expense of Taiwan's long-term interests. Still, the KMT's message of an illusionary "peace and prosperity" has found a receptive audience among Taiwanese who are willing to temporarily cast aside their reservations about the KMT's past and present transgressions.

Conversely, given that the DPP is taking the long-term view of Taiwan's national security which in turn guarantees Taiwan's continuing democratization, the DPP's approach to cross-strait affairs often imposes on the public various degrees of short-term sacrifice -- be it time or profit.

Therefore, unless politicians and government officials from the DPP conduct themselves with a similar spirit of self-sacrifice, the DPP's message on cross-strait issues will go nowhere.

In other words, it serves little purpose for the pan-green camp to bemoan the general public's lack of farsightedness, or their collective amnesia about the KMT's 50-year abuse of power in Taiwan.

It is not surprising that the Taiwanese people would hold DPP politicians to a high standard, with a squeaky-clean record a minimum requirement.

All of this might also partially explain why so many people, including some within the DPP, are in favor of removing "burdensome" regulations. Yet, further deregulation is the wrong medicine for the DPP.

For one thing, the enhancement of the nation's long-term interests is the DPP's raison d'etre. If deregulation is found to be detrimental to those interests, it should be curtailed instead of being expanded.

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