President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) call over the weekend for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to return to the provisional legislative session to “review” the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was disingenuous at best. \nMa said it was the DPP’s responsibility, as the nation’s largest opposition party, to return to the extra legislative session to “monitor the government.” \nSadly for Taiwan’s democratic institutions, “monitoring” the government under the Ma administration, where both the executive and legislative branches are dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has taken on an entirely different meaning. \nThe DPP walked out of the “review” on Friday because the KMT, which has about three-quarters of the seats in the legislature, used its majority to bypass a committee review and called instead for one month of deliberations. \nA clause-by-clause review of the ECFA has been nixed by the Cabinet and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT member. Faced with this situation and aware it has insuffient votes in the legislature to kill the ECFA as a whole, the DPP had little choice but to not participate in what is turning into nothing more than an unnecessary exercise to rubber-stamp the deal, for which every taxpayer in Taiwan is paying. \nWalking out was the right thing to do. Staying, or returning to the legislature and taking part in this travesty of deliberative democracy would confer an aura of legitimacy on the endeavor that it does not deserve. More than that, by participating in this KMT-orchestrated “review,” the DPP would make it possible for the Ma administration to tell the world that the process was transparent, fair and that the outcome reflected consensus between the two main parties. \nUnable to do its job of monitoring the government in the legislature, the DPP has been compelled to work outside the system. \nOf course, this action also exposes the DPP to accusations that it is acting “irrationally” and refusing to cooperate in the democratic process. Seen from abroad, those criticisms could even gain some traction. However, given its options, when forced to choose between being portrayed as “extremist” or actually doing what is right for the country, the DPP made the right decision. \nThough it is unlikely that this course of action will force the Ma administration to reconsider its ECFA policy, at least the DPP will have stuck to its principles and avoided becoming an accomplice in the perversion of democracy. That alone, however, will be insufficient. What the party must now do is come up with alternative strategies to either prevent an ill-reviewed ECFA from coming into force or, at a minimum, launch a public diplomacy campaign to explain to Taiwanese — and the world — why it could not be a participant in Wang’s legislative circus. \nFailing to do so — because of the DPP’s image problems in the international media — would make it easy for the KMT and governments who support the ECFA to cast the DPP in the role of a troublemaker. \nThe reluctant player here, the one who is exploiting the organs of democracy devoid of its heart and spirit, is the KMT, not the DPP.
Having returned to the UK late last year and with a Taiwanese spouse remaining in Taiwan, I have been afforded the chance to compare and contrast the UK and Taiwanese governments’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis. My early conclusions are that Taiwan benefits from a rational, competent government, which quickly recognizes, adapts to and confronts large-scale disasters. It is led by a government that does more than just talk of respecting democracy and human rights, one that is scrutinized and responds to criticism, one that is concerned about public opinion, and one that is used to dealing with emergencies on
Early last month, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) was elected party chairman, winning with a seven-to-three majority over pro-Beijing former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), a two-time KMT vice chairman. Chiang’s victory has been interpreted as a generational change and the beginning of major party reform. In his inauguration speech on March 9, Chiang did not mention the so-called “1992 consensus.” Analysts believe that his most urgent task is to attract more young people to the party and win voter trust, and that he does not care about Beijing’s reaction. After joining the party chairmanship by-election, Chiang made his
A day does not go by without some news or media update about the spread of COVID-19. It is impossible to even remember exactly when it was not like this. Such is the nature of the pandemic that is crisscrossing the world. Cities and countries are on lockdown. People are hoarding. Health services are being overtaxed. Racism has also grown rampant as non-involved Asians around the world are being blamed for what originated from a bureaucratic cover-up in Wuhan, China. There are innumerable lessons to be learned from this, far too many to be listed here. This article will focus