Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Taipei a vestige of the old regime

By Woody Cheng 鄭梓

The red-clad anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) protesters in Taipei, who claim to be leading a popular revolution in the capital of the Republic of China (ROC), are actually enacting a model example of a petite bourgeoisie uprising. This has naturally exemplified the weak, fickle and opportunistic character of petite bourgeoisie revolutions in recent history.

These protesters are aligned with pro-unification and pro-China ideology, as evidenced by their cries of "Long live the Republic of China" and "Defend the Republic of China." It is thus bizarre to see them trample on the ROC's "temporary capital," dispel its symbolic image as the center of the ROC and paralyze its ability to fulfill its functions as the nation's capital. Many believe that now is the time to make a concerted effort to move the capital away from Taipei.

When former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) proposed freezing or abolishing the Taiwan provincial government more than 10 years ago, I repeatedly wrote that moving the capital, sharing the title among different cities, or spreading out its functions could help end the abnormal quasi-country condition Taiwan had been saddled with since the arrival of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) forces.

In March 2003, when Chen was elected as a representative of the pro-localization Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), I urged even more forcefully that with Taiwan embarking on a new leadership under its "native son," the most pressing need was to deal with the seat of government.

No matter how difficult or how much of an uproar the move might cause, I believed that the Chen administration needed to do its utmost to bring about transitional justice to prevent the old, deep-rooted KMT regime from launching a counter attack.

Moreover, the government should begin planning to move or split up the capital, or at the very least spread out its functions. This would enable it to move out of the shadow of housing an "adjunct capital" or "temporary capital" that Taipei had been for an oppressive, foreign feudal regime for more than a century.

But after procrastinating for six years, the DPP seems to be imprisoned in the shell of the old foreign regime. It can barely move, and is bound to draw criticism if it does. The consequences of its failures are all around us: Its promises are left unfulfilled and national affairs have been thrown into chaos. What's more, not a day goes by without the pro-China media sneering that the "the localized regime doesn't exist" and that "transitional justice is a joke."

While the DPP and Chen administration cannot shirk their responsibility for governing poorly and treating transitional justice lightly, this begs the question of will any of the following administrations be able to do better. How can we afford not to seize the opportunity offered by the self-destructive anti-Chen movement -- the so-called bourgeoisie "popular revolution" and its mock "siege" -- to begin spreading out the functions of the capital?

We should begin by abolishing Taipei's status as the capital to remove the last vestiges of a feudal, centralized and authoritarian regime. Tearing down these forces is meant to be an opportunity to rebuild or reconstruct the nation, whether it's based in Taiwanese awareness, Taiwanese autonomy, or other ideals to ensure long-term peaceful development. We should have gotten rid of the old thinking of the capital as a single entity long ago, as this plays right into the hands of Bei-jing's strategy to contain Taiwan.

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