Sat, Nov 14, 2009 - Page 8 News List

A spineless president, a spineless citizenry

By David S. Min 敏洪奎

At an academic seminar on Oct. 25, former presidential adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) predicted that China is likely to make every effort to help secure President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election in 2012.

Peng said Beijing is likely to withdraw missiles it is aiming at Taiwan, propose a peace agreement and stimulate Taiwan’s stock market to boost Ma’s momentum and lure Taiwanese into voting for him again.

Peng is not a prophet, but his prediction that China will make every effort to help Ma is perfectly sensible. Speculation that Ma intends to turn Taiwan into a special administrative region of China, or that he is trying to win the Nobel Peace Prize by signing a cross-strait peace agreement with Beijing, is far-fetched, but it is an undeniable fact that the president’s weak character and fear of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) set him apart from his predecessors.

Beijing is, of course, quite happy with the situation, and it probably doesn’t want another Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate to replace Ma, let alone a transfer of power to the Democratic Progressive Party. After all, who matches Ma in the pushover stakes?

In trying to help Ma, Beijing will likely use the methods that Peng mentioned, but it is even more likely to use other channels to spread rumors of what will happen to Taiwan if Ma does not gain a second term.

Its threat against Kaohsiung City for displaying a documentary about World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer was a rehearsal for future blackmail against Taiwan.

Peng raised another key issue: What will become of Taiwanese identity when the inducements begin to appear? Will we resist them, or will we be mesmerized and follow Ma down the road of no return?

The answer to this question may not be so cheerful. As the saying goes, “the first falling leaf heralds the autumn.” A few examples will be enough to illustrate the numbness of Taiwanese and whether or not identity will have a role to play.

The Kaohsiung City Government’s decision to screen the documentary about Kadeer while disregarding Chinese threats attempted to maintain national dignity. Surprisingly, however, Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Chuang Chi-wang (莊啟旺) of the KMT requested that the city government take the overall situation into account and acquiesce to China, while some councilors suggested that the city government’s budget be blocked.

Would anyone with true Taiwanese identity do such a thing? If Goto Shimpei — a chief administrator of Taiwan during the Japanese era who mocked Taiwanese for fearing death and loving money — were still alive today, he would laugh with disdain.

Now in his eighties, Peng has a deep concern for Taiwan, unlike many of Taiwan’s youth, who are addicted to the Internet or night clubs and who idolize stars and models. The latter are not concerned about the predicament facing their free society.

All this tells us that Taiwanese are likely to hand their fate to Ma once more as a result of China’s carrot-and-stick approach.

Will the public then realize how precious freedom is after it has been lost?

David S. Min is a political commentator and author of Heartfelt Wishes of a Citizen.


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