Sun, Nov 19, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Protests are declining as the nation's values grow

By Wang Szu-hsun 王思迅

After first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) was indicted on corruption and forgery charges, I found that some of my friends were no longer interested in discussing whether President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should resign.

Opinion polls show that support for the anti-corruption campaign has also dropped, which fascinated and confused me. I could feel a subtle change but was unable to explain it.

After reading the Nov. 9 open letter from Nobel laureate Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) to the president, I finally understood and realized that Lee is thoroughly aware of public opinion.

In response to this letter, as with Lee's previous letters, politicians who did not want to stake out a position merely said they respect his view and appreciate his effort.

Politicians who wanted to respond labeled his views and praised or criticized him without restraint. They saw only their own stance and did not sense the social significance of the letter.

I want to thank Lee for writing the letter at a time of crisis in Taiwan. Through his letters, Lee has always observed Taiwan's developments patiently and optimistically, despite his own concerns.

I believe this is the attitude of most good and decent Taiwanese people. Unfortunately, confrontation can and does occur, caused by radicals on both ends of the political spectrum. But despite such confrontation, I believe that Lee sees how, in the long-term, good people create positive values.

From an overall perspective, there is no lack of criticism and freedom in Taiwan. What we do lack is a spiritual force that upholds positive values.

In the past, both the ruling and opposition camps failed to build and nurture positive values. Nobody talked about this before, but now Lee has highlighted the issue.

I hope that people will pay attention when they read two important passages in Lee's letter. The first says "On a deeper level, this crisis is a democratic result of Taiwan's power transfer."

The second says "Today, the judiciary has demonstrated an independence unprecedented in Taiwan. The investigation and indictment of the first family -- although that does not mean that they are guilty -- represents a giant leap for judicial independence; a great result of the power transfer in 2000."

Positive values can only grow with the help of positive attitudes. Lee reminded us that the indictments were a tangible result of Taiwan's power transfer and a key turning point for building positive values.

This letter shares similar ideas with Lee's previous letter in late June, in which he condemned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for "too few achievements and too much corruption."

On the other hand, he worried that perhaps the opposition was too eager to recall the president, saying that Taiwan's political situation would continue to tread water if the two camps constantly went opposite ways and that he did not see the possibility of forming positive values for Taiwan at that time.

However, in his recent letter, Lee's optimism and determination are apparent because he can now see the possibility for building positive values.

I now understand why people have stopped discussing whether the president should step down and why the "reds" have lost support: these issues reflected an anxiety caused by the absence of positive values in Taiwanese society.

Taiwanese are fundamentally good and decent. When a reliable, positive value such as that exhibited by the judicial system emerges, we must nurture it patiently so it can become stronger. Lee's letter showed us that this is possible.

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