Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 8 News List

A demand for fairness and tolerance

By Li Hua-chiu 李華球

The shot fired at Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Committee member Sean Lien (連勝文) at a campaign rally has once again tarnished the image of democracy and elections in Taiwan, casting reason aside and eroding the dignity of Taiwanese. People were just beginning to forgive and forget after the March 19, 2004, shooting of then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his vice president, Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), when the shot fired at Lien on Nov. 26 once more stirred up resentment and enmity. That evening added another black mark to Taiwan’s history, bringing gloom and despondency to all. How long will it be until Taiwan can finally be free of such tragedies?

The shot fired that night brought fear in its wake, as could be seen in the solemn faces all around. At the same time, many people set about pondering on the shooting and trying to figure out what effect it might have had on the votes cast for the contending parties. What a sad day for Taiwan. Is that all a human life is worth? Is there no more to life in this country than political drama? Is nothing else important?

Besides the serious injury caused to Lien as the bullet tore through his face, an innocent bystander was also hit and killed. The bullet pierced Taiwan’s very heart and highlighted its tragic past and present. Confrontation is still with us. When will it ever go away? This gunshot may well have dire and unpredictable consequences that will remain with us for a long time.

What can we learn from this election? Frankly speaking, its negative aspects outweigh the positive. There were many bad examples of politicians stirring up trouble, sharpening the confrontation between supporters of the pan-blue and pan-green camps and creating a hostile division in which neither side could tolerate the other.

Will this be Taiwan’s fate forever? Are we really willing to be dragged down to such depths? I live here and I certainly don’t have the confidence to tell the world about Taiwan and its elections. The gulf between the two sides has become so deep that it seems impossible to bridge. Who is responsible for this tragic outcome? Without doubt, neither governing nor opposition parties can deny their responsibility; still less do they have any grounds for blaming their rivals. The election is over and the votes have been counted, but the bullet fired that evening has burned a deep wound in people’s hearts. How can we now stand before the world and claim that Taiwan is a model of democracy?

One election is over and done with, but the next will follow before very long. Politicians of both camps — government and opposition — must look beyond the goal of holding on to or gaining control of political power. They must without delay take responsibility for the vulgar language and violence that undermine moral values and social order and come up with a remedy that will fully remove these ills. If not, the next insult or violent act may have unimaginable consequences.

People have had enough of such irrational and unjustifiable violence that creates discord in Taiwan and ruins its reputation. The public must boldly tell politicians that we want to see reason, security and harmony in our lives, and we want a competent, capable and conscientious government. More than that, we want an environment of tolerance in which everyone can compete on an even playing field. These demands are quite fundamental, but we must ask those in authority — what have you done to make them a reality? Is it really too much to ask?

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