Taiwan's democracy and identity are serious topics that touch on the nation's very existence.
Two recent events have caught the attention of the Taiwanese public. First, the premiere of a documentary entitled Taiwan's Road to Democracy caused a sensation among the nation's pro-localization forces. The second event was the second signature drive by a group of pan-green academics, which focused on democracy and identity in an attempt to review the govern-ment's performance and the maturity of Taiwan's civil society.
Both events dealt with the same subject matter from different perspectives. The documentary praises the nation's democratic achievements between 1988 and 2000, claiming that Taiwan has won international acclaim for transforming itself from an authoritarian society into a democracy through a peaceful revolution. It also reminds the Taiwanese to defy hardship and danger and launch the next stage of democratization.
The signature drive launched by the pro-green academics highlighted their frustration and disappointment with the stalled process of democratization that has resulted from the country's identity crisis, and asked the public to consider how to enrich Taiwan's national identity through democratic values.
The documentary reflects every crucial event and turning point in the nation's pursuit of democracy and how, for every step toward democracy, Taiwan has further clarified its relationship with China. It also shows how this has led to a clearer understanding of what Taiwan is and who we are, and how democratization had led to localization and the formation of a Taiwanese identity.
This culminated in former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) proposal of a "special state-to-state" formula to define cross-strait relations and the transfer of power to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2000.
However, following the DPP's ascent to power, the nation's democracy has been dealt a series of blows as a result of the conflict between the pan-green and pan-blue camps. The opposition-dominated legislature has rendered ineffective the popularly elected government's attempt to implement policy, while Taiwanese identity has been eroded as a result of the economic attraction of China, the influence of Taiwan's China-leaning politicians and parties and a wavering government.
Taiwan has temporarily lost its confidence and a sense of direction to guide its future development. When contemplating a solution, the government should set the agenda it intends to follow in the next stage of democratization and kick-start that stage to focus and strengthen national awareness among the public.
During the first stage of democratization, a conference on national affairs was convened, the "Communist rebellion" era was ended, the Constitution was reinstated and lifetime employment for legislators and National Assembly members was ended. The Constitution has been amended six times. We now have full legislative and direct presidential elections. Over the past 12 years, every move that Taiwan has made has been intended to help the nation grow stronger and become a normal country.
For Taiwanese identity to be further deepened, the Taiwanese people must have confidence. The question of how the government should go about enhancing the nation's performance on the political, economic and cultural fronts in order to build confidence among the Taiwanese thus becomes crucial to building national identity.