The Taipei Society recently published a report titled Deconstructing the New One-Party State (解構新黨國) that admonishes President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration on issues including the economy, sovereignty, human rights and government.
The report makes 10 suggestions, one of which is replacing the premier. It asserts that Ma’s government has been incompetent in dealing with a series of domestic and international economic crises that have hit Taiwan since its accession seven months ago, while the number of unemployed has reached at least 500,000, making Taiwan’s unemployment rate the highest among the Four Asian Tigers.
The Taiwan Society calls Ma’s regime a “new one-party state” because, with its complete control of the state apparatus, the government has restricted the public’s freedoms of assembly and parade, infringed on judicial rights and suppressed freedom of speech, while at the same time leaning heavily toward the autocratic Chinese regime. All in all, Taiwan’s state and society are regressing in many ways.
The “new one-party state” is fundamentally no different from the old one-party state that controlled Taiwan under dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) after World War II. Just like the Chiangs, the Ma regime has used police brutality against dissidents and manipulated the judiciary, while the media assist the government in brainwashing the public and hounding the ruling party’s political enemies. Moreover, the Ma regime is controlled by a minority, just as the old one was.
While the past dictatorship allocated government jobs according to birthplace, the majority of posts in Ma’s Cabinet are held by Mainlanders, although they account for only 14 percent of Taiwan’s population. The 228 Incident and White Terror of yesteryear were examples of ethnic politics, and so are the policies of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) now that it has returned to power under the guise of democratic elections.
However, the old and new one-party states are not equal in quality of performance. Although under the old regime the legislature was accused of being a mere department of Cabinet, at least the formality of legislative review did take place. Last month, however, when Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation signed four agreements on direct cross-strait transport links with its Chinese counterpart, the legislature was not even allowed to function as a rubber stamp.
In terms of competence, the old regime oversaw Taiwan’s industrialization and steady economic growth and guided it through energy and financial crises. In contrast, the Ma administration has proved its incompetence by implementing unrealistic economic policies that have led to an economic downturn and provoked widespread public discontent after just a few months of government. Now that the global financial storm has arrived, there is even greater cause for worry.
It can be said that the new one-party state has not inherited the old regime’s competence in running the country, but it matches the Chiang regime in its willingness to use police-state methods to keep the people under control.
Above all, the old one-party state kept to its anti-communist principles and aligned itself with advanced countries like the US and Japan. As a result, through the great efforts of its own people and under benign foreign influence, Taiwan’s economy and politics advanced, and democracy and prosperity were finally achieved.