Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Voters can either save Ma or save the nation

By James Wang 王景弘

A US-based high-ranking official who served under the administration of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) used to offer a standard response to any overseas Taiwanese who wanted Taiwan to be annexed by China. He would say, — and not without a degree of satisfaction — that advocates of this position should first move back to Taiwan and then see how they felt about the issue.

This strikes at the very heart of what democracy is. Any changes to the sovereign status, political system or way of life in Taiwan should be decided by Taiwanese. People living overseas, on the other side of the world, should keep their opinions to themselves if they’re not prepared to live with the consequences.

This principle can also be applied to Taiwanese businesspeople in China: The question is whether Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) has the guts to tell these pro-unification businesspeople to put up or shut up — to go back and live in Taiwan before offering their opinion.

No one is claiming that all Taiwanese businesspeople in China are communist-leaning, but it cannot be denied that they are at the mercy of the machinations of Beijing and they end up looking at things from a Chinese perspective. Advocates of annexation, whichwould spell the death of Taiwanese democracy, are the people who form President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) hardcore base of supporters.

Ma does not stand up for Taiwan. He wouldn’t even deign to stand up for the Republic of China (ROC). His “one China” policy has undermined his popularity and voter support, just as it has damaged the sovereignty, industry and employment prospects of Taiwan and the democratic rights of Taiwanese.

The Hong Kong edition of China Taiwan Businessman magazine has been running a “Save Ma” campaign, lauding his policy of capitulating to China, mainly because it’s in the economic interests of Taiwanese businesspeople in China that he does so.

The “Save Ma” slogan reflects the concerns of China and the pro-China faction in the aftermath of last month’s special municipality elections. Immediately after the elections, Li Jiaquan (李家泉), a Chinese pundit and former official dealing with Taiwanese affairs, conceded that Ma was “flawed,” but called on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to unite around him, offer their support and stop undermining him.

Li is making a play on words in Chinese here. The phrase he uses for support includes the character tai — houtai (support, 後台) — which is the same tai as the first character in the name Taiwan. What he was insinuating was that he sees Ma as dismantling the ROC and undermining Taiwan (chaitai, 拆台) in readiness for surrendering it to China. Ma knows that even hardcore, pan-blue supporters would balk at this and his prospects for re-election for a second term would not be good. The answer is to support him (butai, 補台), in other words, by being complicit in his deceiving of the electorate.

Ma has recently made much of the ROC’s centenary, regurgitating that oft-repeated phrase about “loving Taiwan” and that the future of the country is to be decided by the 23 million Taiwanese living here. This is little more than deception; nothing more than cloak and dagger.

Support Ma or undermine him. Save Ma or save Taiwan. This is the predicament currently facing the KMT. It is also a crucial choice that the Taiwanese electorate faces with the legislative elections at the end of this year or the presidential election next year.

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