No sooner had the tally of the votes from all precincts in Taiwan's 2004 presidential election been completed than the pan-blue camp commenced its struggle to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
The non-stop effort has since taken the form of perpetual obstructionism in the pan-blue-controlled Legislative Yuan, where the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its allies pursue mindless partisanship to the detriment of the national interest. This has hurt the nation's defense, stymied economic development and harmed governmental efficiency. The obvious purpose of the pan-blue action has been to undermine Chen's government to the point of paralyzing it.
Interspersed with this unrelenting campaign have been flare-ups such as the recently failed recall attempt in the Legislative Yuan and the current sit-in headed by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to demand that Chen step down.
But the Taiwanese public's resentment towards the pan-blue camp's antics has also grown to such an extent that nothing short of Chen committing deeply offensive acts would persuade pan-green voters to acquiesce to his removal. To deep greens, using morality as the yardstick to measure the president's behavior simply reeks of double standards in light of the KMT's past actions.
The upshot is that deep-greens would never amicably allow Chen to be railroaded into an early retirement under current circumstances.
Meanwhile, the pan-blue camp's fixation on removing Chen before the expiration of his term persists, and so does frustration with it.
Therein lies the classic case of an unstoppable force coming up against an immovable wall and the impasse seems destined to continue.
Speeches Chen made recently may have shed some light on the conditions under which he would relinquish power of his own accord.
Chen ran through a litany of subjects he had promised pan-green voters before the most recent presidential election, including engineering a new Constitution that can survive in the current international environment and accomplishing a good measure of "transition justice." This catch-all phrase was coined to encompass the return of the KMT's ill-gotten party assets and the disposition of justice surrounding the myriad issues involved in the 228 incident, the subsequent White Terror and other remnants of the nation's former party-state.
The common thread linking these disparate undertakings is that they can only be accomplished with the cooperation of the KMT. Once these promises are fulfilled, pan-green voters' qualms about Chen's stepping down would be easily and rapidly deflated.
Furthermore, the political problems surrounding Chen stem mainly from institutional defects in the government that can only be cured through legislation. These defects include drafting a better law that would make removing a sitting president much less chaotic, laws that would restrict the power of the president to appoint officials and laws that would establish mechanisms to curtail graft by all government officials.
In summary, the KMT holds the key to expediting the early peaceful departure of Chen as well, strengthening Taiwan's democracy and at the same time ridding the party of its most notorious historical albatross.
Should this gap that sepa-rates the two sides of the political divide be bridged, every Taiwanese person would benefit.
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