Wednesday was the birthday of Chiang Kai-shek (
Mainlander politicians and media criticize the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) removal of Chiang symbolism, but the DPP is actually making Taiwan into a normal country. If we were to celebrate the birthday of every president, Taiwan would set some kind of record.
Some Mainlander conservatives want to commemorate Chiang's birthday exclusively to turn Chiang into a demigod, while the DPP prefers to treat him as a mere mortal.
The political base of many in the pan-blue camp is attached to Mainlander conservatives who distort history to make Chiang look like a great man.
But Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) needs more than the votes of conservative Mainlanders to secure the presidency.
He is therefore campaigning for more support from ethnic Taiwanese, as his "long stay" program shows. But he should be aware that in the eyes of ethnic Taiwanese, Chiang was a dictator and a murderer.
If Ma can understand that giving up a few conservative votes could give him many others, he would bring himself much closer to the presidency.
And when it comes to political networks, the DPP lags far behind the KMT. Economic problems have also had a big impact on the DPP. Although the economy's hiccups have not been its fault, voters will still hold the ruling party responsible, which will complicate its presidential campaign.
But the powers of the old KMT are Ma's burden. Unfortunately for Ma, he doesn't seem to understand this and he cannot free himself. On the one hand he embraces conservative Mainlander forces, while on the other he is still trying to win support in the localization camp.
In the eyes of many ethnic Taiwanese, a politician loses credibility if he embraces Chiang, but Ma continues to do so, and in this way he is actually helping the campaign of DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).
When the government canceled celebrations for Chiang's birthday this year, Ma went out of his way to defend Chiang and thus his hold on the Mainlander vote. He said historical figures had merits and shortcomings, but that Chiang had made important contributions to Taiwan through the restoration, development and preservation of the island, and that it would be a good thing to commemorate him.
Ma's words were far from the truth. After World War II, Taiwan went from occupation by one foreign country to occupation by another. How can this be called "restoration"? Foreign regimes consider themselves above the people they rule, and that is what Chiang's regime did, and compounded the problem by committing ethnic discrimination.
Like the Japanese before them, the KMT that occupied Taiwan was a colonial regime. Chiang did not restore Taiwan; he occupied it.
When Chiang arrived, he came from a backward place. He did not develop Taiwan. Instead he took credit for the efforts of the Japanese administration.
Ma's statement that Chiang "preserved" Taiwan is even more preposterous. If the KMT had not come, it would have disappeared from the face of the Earth, and Taiwan would not have missed it. A more correct statement would be to say that Taiwan preserved Chiang Kai-shek.