Mon, Aug 28, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Now is the time for more reflection

By Michelle Wang 王美琇

There are no "ifs" in history. We can't do things over again -- there is only the review after the event. History is often made up of accidental events. If Rosa Parks hadn't refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger on Dec. 1, 1955, perhaps the American civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr would not have occurred. Without King's assassination, perhaps the success of the movement would have been delayed for decades.

Similarly, without the efforts of countless people, Taiwan's democracy and freedom may not exist. And without the Wild Lily Student Movement (野百合學運) in 1990 and the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) support, there would have been no opportunity for former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to implement reform.

We now live in political chaos with history staring us right in the eye to see what we are and are not doing. Our every move will affect how in the years to come we will interpret this period.

But King also wrote in his autobiography that history is a matter of choice. He said that when collective will has decided on a direction, perhaps history is already moving in that direction.

Now, however, I am facing a dilemma. Taiwan is currently caught in a confrontation between two enormous forces. Where will the pro and anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) forces lead Taiwan? I don't know. I can only hope that beyond the agitation, we can find room for rational dialogue and thinking, so that our democracy will not regress several decades.

I cannot imagine how the anti-Chen campaign launched by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) might affect Taiwan's society. Will Taiwan's democracy be deepened and the Taiwanese people live happily ever after if Chen resigns? As popular revolution rears its head and democracy is relegated to the back seat, will we continue to rely on revolutionary means to force future unpopular presidents to step down? Will social values then be improved, and special privileges and the power of money disappear?

As the campaign to unseat Chen places morality above all else, what has happened to the judicial and constitutional systems? If the campaign fails to unseat Chen, how should we calm the emotions of its supporters? Will the hatred caused by the 2004 presidential election continue to spread and cause more polarization? Will Shih, former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), and other campaign leaders follow up by forming a new political party, mocking those stupid supporters who have enabled them to do so?

In the face of the pan-blue camp's strong demands for Chen's resignation, the pan-green camp has made every effort to support him. Except for responding to his supporters by strengthening his resolve not to resign, how much self-examination will Chen be capable of? And while improving their ratings or circulations by promoting the campaign to oust Chen, will the media really be able to carry out an in depth review of the professional ethics and social responsibility of the fourth estate?

The confrontation between the pro and anti-Chen camps has created a social atmosphere of irrationality and craziness, while rational discussion on deeper systemic and social problems are absent. Many people only sigh, at a loss what to do. Friends tell me to urge pro-green supporters to display the same self-constraint and cool they showed after the presidential election in 2004 to avoid a bloody tragedy and let democracy continue to advance.

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