In democratic politics, major national policies are established based on public opinion. Only autocratic, dictatorial and non-democratic political parties see the will of their deceased leaders as national guidelines in order to secure power.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was skyrocketed into his official career under the party-state system and his anti-democratic record is clear for all to see. Although he was elected through a democratic mechanism, he only took public opinion into consideration before the election. Since his election, Ma has showed no signs of considering public opinion. Instead of concerning himself with the opinions of the living, he holds fast to the opinions of the deceased.
Indeed, it is the tradition of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to consider the opinion of previous leaders when ruling the country. Dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) embraced Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) thought, Chiang’s son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) followed his father’s, and even former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was forced to follow Chiang Ching-kuo’s ideas for a while. Now Ma’s turn has come, and he has made the spirit of Chiang Ching-kuo at the mausoleum in Touliao (頭寮), Taoyuan County, part of his political capital. So surely he should insist on following the younger Chiang’s thought.
Although Ma has learned of the beauty of power based on the thought of a deceased leader, he is not following Chiang’s opinions, but those of his late father Ma Ho-ling (馬鶴凌): Dissolution of the independence movement and a gradual slide toward unification with China, followed by eventual unification. Mid-level party hack Ma Ho-ling’s will has overridden the will of the two Chiangs.
To Taiwanese, the perspectives of the two dictators were not entirely terrifying. The elder Chiang called for the implementation of the Three Principles of the People, retaking China, the revitalization of Chinese culture and defending democracy. His son carried on the heritage by demanding that the government and the public be determined to fight the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and recover China. He also urged soldiers and civilians to accelerate the restoration of China and reunification under the principles and the guidance of the late president’s instructions.
Key anti-CCP slogans such as “recover the mainland” were the tools the KMT used to resist democratization. Even Lee was surprised that he had to promote unification with China along these lines in the early days of his rule.
Although these slogans did not win over everyone, they ensured that Taiwan would not be sold out to the CCP and that at least Taiwanese would be free of the fear of being controlled by yet another foreign regime and a different system.
Ruling a country based on the will of a deceased leader runs counter to democratic principles. Ma has strayed even further by betraying the premise for unification according to the Chiangs and instead following his father’s line of thought. Not only has he failed to defend democracy, he has crawled into the pitfall of communist dictatorship. Under Ma, Taiwan has become a region of China. The Chiang family is detestable, but the Ma family’s attempts to sell out Taiwan are even more dangerous.
James Wang is a media commentator.
TRANSLATED BY TED YANG