Sat, Oct 21, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Neutrality is a luxury that the TSU can't afford

By Cao Changqing 曹長青

Although everyone was aware that it would fail, the pan-blue camp's second motion to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) went ahead and was defeated. In just four months, the same motion has been proposed twice, as if the pan-blues treat presidential recalls like a child's game. This would never occur in other democratic nations.

The actions of both pan-blue legislators and leaders of the anti-Chen campaign demonstrate that the anti-Chen campaign is not about opposing corruption or seeking to transcend the blue-green divide, but rather that it is just another pan-blue strategy -- possibly with support from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) -- to topple the Democratic Progressive Party government.

Although it is well known that the rift between the KMT and the People First Party (PFP) has widened to an almost irreparable extent, the two parties still appear united in support of the anti-Chen campaign. Following the KMT's failed attempt to recall Chen, the PFP filed a second recall motion. KMT Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) gave the green light to the anti-Chen demonstrations, and on Oct. 10, PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) stood shoulder to shoulder with the KMT when PFP and KMT legislators tried to scupper national day celebrations.

Those who have shown support for Chen and participated in demonstrations opposing the anti-Chen campaign do not tolerate corruption, but instead convey two messages.

First, they uphold democratic principles and the rule of law, and support Chen's completion of his presidential term as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Second, the pan-green camp must work to protect its interests in its confrontation with the pan-blue camp.

However, the decision by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) to take a neutral stance is troubling and will have at least three negative consequences.

First, it sends the message that the pan-green camp is split. The KMT and the PFP have joined the CCP to bully Taiwan's government, and pose a challenge that even a united green camp would have to work hard to overcome.

Second, the TSU's decision may help foster the pan-blue camp's illusion that it can split the pan-green camp with more presidential recall motions and push the TSU toward the pan-blue camp.

Third, the TSU's decision to remain neutral may cause the party to loose the support of pan-green supporters.

When the pan-blue camp was attempting to recall Chen for the first time in June, the TSU made an effort to distance itself from the DPP by casting invalid ballots in the legislature. At that time, I urged TSU legislators to emulate their DPP counterparts and abstain from voting. That would have sent a clear message that the green camp is united and would have minimized the pan-blue camp's illusions.

Recently I participated in some talkshows and found that most callers were strongly opposed to the behavior of Shih Ming-teh's (施明德) red-clad followers. At a forum organized by the TSU in Pingtung, the audience made it clear that supporting Chen meant supporting the pan-green camp and Taiwan.

Regrettably, the TSU still cast ballots in last week's presidential recall motion to maintain what they claimed to be a neutral stance. In reality, neutrality does not exist in politics.

Regardless of whether it is the TSU or the most senior political leader, ignoring the pan-green camp's interests and public opinion because of party infighting could be bad for everyone on the pan-green side. Today, the pan-green camp cannot afford a split, nor can the TSU afford to remain neutral.

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