Mon, Oct 09, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letters: The least of all evils

Someone once told me that to better understand a country you should understand its history. If the history of Double Ten National Day helps us understand anything about this island, it is that its people are quite desperate for a proper national holiday.

I say this because of how limited and brief the successes surrounding that day were. Regardless of whether or not you consider Taiwan to be the Republic of China (ROC), there is little to be proud of when this holiday comes around.

The problem is that it does not have much competition as far as national holidays go. What else can people celebrate? The next noteworthy event after the Wuchang Uprising was the Northern Expedition, in which Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) led KMT troops from their base in Canton to unify China under the ROC flag.

Almost. There was still a small but feisty Japanese contingent in northeast China, and the irrepressible Communists were entrenched in their bases in various parts of the country. Through the 1930s the situation only worsened.

Despite the fact that the Japanese were decimating local populations along China's coast, it would take Chiang being kidnapped by his own ally before he finally agreed to fight back.

So this period is not cause for celebration either.

Neither is the anniversary of Japan's capitulation to the Allies. The KMT and Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Chinese Communist Party started a full-fledged civil war before the ink on the Japanese surrender was dry. This culminated in the KMT retreat to Taiwan and the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The first democratic presidential elections in 1996 proceeded fairly peacefully.

But subsequent elections in 2000 and 2004 created a bitter and foolhardy rivalry between the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This infighting had the spectacular effect of polarizing one of the world's more ethnically harmonious populations while numbing their minds at the same time.

Perhaps Taiwanese will someday work together toward a day that we can all be proud of. But for now, it looks like Double Ten day will have to do.

Daniel Mojahedi

Taipei

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