Fri, Oct 06, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: There is hope in the turmoil

By Huang Jei-hsuan

The unpredictability of former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) campaign to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) raises a cornucopia of possibilities.

Two articles on Sept. 22 in the Los Angeles Times -- "Daily protests snap at Taiwan leader's heels" and "China accused of reneging on rights pledge" -- discuss Shih's undertaking and the future of Taiwan if Shih gets his way.

A Beijing-based Taiwan analyst was quoted in the first article as saying: "This situation makes us [China] confident there won't be real independence activities at this stage. They're too busy with their own problems."

That can only imply that Shih's event has so far served Beijing's causes. The comment, however, has hardly put a dent in the speculation that Beijing has a hand in the anti-Chen campaign.

While the report lacks direct proof, meaningful inferences can still be drawn based on reports that Shih's inner circle boasts the participation of bigwigs from Taiwan-based media outlets with links to Beijing.

Circumstantial evidence of Beijing's involvement abound, including the unmistakable symbolism of the sit-in's starting day -- Sept. 9 -- coinciding with the anniversary of the death of former Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong (毛澤東). The adoption of red as the prime color for the anti-Chen movement and the myriad imitations of tactics harking back to China's Cultural Revolution are also telling.

As the saying goes, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

Furthermore, looking past the article's critical tone, one couldn't help but be surprised by what Chen has managed to do for Taiwan's democracy and consequently for the nation's security -- the headwind from both Beijing and Washington notwithstanding.

Chen was faulted for wanting "the electorate to vote on whether Taiwan should seek to join the United Nations using the name Taiwan rather than the official Republic of China," for engineering "passage of a law legalizing referendums" and for, earlier this year, dissolving "a symbolic unification council."

On top of these "criticisms," the article could also have added Chen's push to adopt a new constitution "custom-made for Taiwan," alluding to the fact that the nation's current Constitution lacks relevance to Taiwan and that this must be remedied lest it threaten the functioning or even the survival of the nation's democracy.

These might all seem "too little and too late" for the pan-green camp, which feels perpetually frustrated by Chen's propensity to let down the independence-leaning end of the spectrum once elections are over.

But these meager accomplishments are precisely what has stoked the deep-blues personal hatred of him.

What has been intentionally overlooked is the fact that Chen's principle duties -- with safeguarding national sovereignty at the top of the list -- are ignored as a yardstick for his performance.

The subject of graft, especially at the scale that has been alleged against Chen, should therefore be dismissed as a ruse, deployed at least partially to divert the public's attention from focusing on the flawed morality of presidential hopeful and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- especially his lack of commitment to a sovereign Taiwan.

But, reportedly, some members of the KMT have taken this deception seriously and conducted a signature drive to initiate an "anti-graft" referendum, intended apparently as another tool to recall Chen.

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