Tue, May 29, 2007 - Page 8 News List

The DPP goes from green to black

By Pan Han-shen 潘翰聲

After witnessing the fierce battle during the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) primaries, many observers believe the elections of the district legislators and the president could be a divisive fight for power.

DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) made basic values the most important reason for the defeat of the former New Tide faction in the primaries. By "basic values" he meant loyalty to a local and national identity, as symbolized by the picture of Taiwan on the DPP's party flag. As the internal struggle for power goes on in the DPP, who remembers the green color of the party's flag and the word "progressive" in the name of the party?

In 1981, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰) and Kang Shui-mu (康水木) together took part in elections for the Taipei City Council. Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) was responsible for their publicity at that time. They borrowed the green color of the recently established German Green Party, called for greater environmental protection and used progressiveness as the symbol of the dangwai (opposition) and the DPP.

In the era of authoritarian one-party rule, the DPP united a variety of opposition forces. But after the party got the opportunity to govern, their pluralist progressive values were slowly compromised when the party gradually evolved into a party for all the people. The party relied more and more on nationalist strategies to mobilize the people. The battle song Our Green Flag, Hoisted to the Sky concentrates on the single identity of the supporters. The lyrics focus only on the glorious future of the country.

It's been seven years since the DPP took office, but when it comes to strategies for economic development, the party has accepted the proposals by technocrats left behind from the rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The development ideology of "killing the goose that lays the golden eggs" has not changed with the changing of the ruling party.

It goes from bad to worse, with environmental groups protesting the Suhua freeway after the policy had already been decided upon. Even though the whole world has been talking about sustainable growth for 10 or 20 years, now the government is spouting outdated ideas about how environmental protection hinders the growth of an economy.

Even though mainstream business magazines rush to discuss business opportunities that reduce global warming, and small but ingenious companies that make things like solar power batteries have become kings of the stock market, the government still woos large but outdated businesses of a bygone era.

These are factories with no competitive power that depend on water and electricity prices being below the international level. They are on their last legs -- even though the average labor cost has dropped more than 5 percent annually in the last 10 years -- still threating to leave Taiwan because of unfavorable economic conditions. The increase in salaries predicted by the government can't keep up with the increase in prices, and it still has to subsidize these companies.

The plans for big investments suggested by former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and continued by Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) is symbolic of this green attack on green values. The government pushes for the development of Formosa Plastics steel and Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co, which produce 10 percent of the country's carbon dioxide.

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