Thu, Oct 05, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan still has a long way to go

By Lee Min-yung 李敏勇

Although the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been in power for six years, it has yet to realize its pledge to improve Taiwan's democratic system.

The red-clad protesters demanding the resignation of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) have obscured the significance of the peaceful transfer of power in 2000, when the DPP defeated the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for the first time in a presidential election.

This nation's tragic history throughout the 20th century still haunts Taiwanese.

Those who were exiled to the island following World War II have yet to identify themselves as Taiwanese and develop a sense of belonging to the island.

Chen does not appear to have a deep understanding of culture and history. Former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) was widely feared, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was hated by some ethnic groups, but Chen is the first Taiwanese leader not to be taken seriously.

The truth is that a feared or hated president can still rule a country, but a president unable to earn the respect of the public cannot.

The major problem facing Chen and the DPP is that they have been unable to rebuild or reform the nation. However, isn't it the KMT that should be held responsible for past failed policies? The unfinished war between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party has made the Republic of China unable to establish itself as a normal, independent nation. Therefore, I wonder if the previous authoritarian regime shouldn't be held responsible for creating a government system that is incomplete and also mired in bureaucracy.

The DPP was once a socially conscious party with democratic ideals. With the KMT, the New Party and the People First Party lurching to the political right and playing up the issue of Chinese ethnicity, the DPP has also followed it, invoking Taiwanese ethnicity in response.

If Taiwan is to establish itself as a sovereign political entity, shouldn't political parties based on their political stance, whether it be right or left, conservative or progressive, work to contribute to the development of the nation, as they do in normal democracies?

Both Chen and the DPP should be held responsible for Taiwan's decline. However, the efforts made by the pan-blue camp and certain factions within the DPP criticizing the government are not entirely well-meaning, for they are often the result of long-standing feuds between both camps.

Taiwan still has a long and bumpy road to travel in protecting democratization and bringing about reconciliation.

Lee Min-yung is a poet.

TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG

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