On the eve of the World Health Assembly (WHA), internal documents from the WHO Secretariat were leaked, revealing orders to its agencies to list Taiwan as a province of China. Once the document was revealed by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator, it became a point of contention between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.
On the one hand, the DPP blamed President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for China-leaning policies that force Taiwan to participate as a mere observer at the WHA on humiliating conditions. On the other hand, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) blames the previous DPP administration for allowing Taiwan to take part in several specialized WHO meetings under the name “Chinese Taiwan” during its time in office, saying the DPP’s political performance should also be scrutinized.
Because the pan-blue and pan-green camps blame each other, what should have been a joint effort to uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty was quickly reduced to a tool for domestic political point scoring.
Ignoring the respective strong and weak points made by the parties and their relationship to the WHO, a simple review from a democratic viewpoint shows that the government’s attempts at self-justification are flimsy.
The Ma administration claims that as soon as the WHO started to belittle Taiwan, it “immediately” protested to both the WHO and the Chinese authorities. At the same time, the administration was quick to blame the DPP for the breakdown in unity and to claim that the DPP had also participated in meetings that belittled Taiwan when it was in government.
Ma’s administration should explain what alternative diplomatic means, other than protesting, are available to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty. After all, only the KMT is in power and able to safeguard national sovereignty. However, the KMT has declined to tell the public what more can be done to protect sovereignty. Instead, it has instead chosen to blame the DPP in an attempt to rationalize its own incompetence.
It is conceivable that the DPP’s unsuccessful aggressive diplomacy to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty was the reason voters believed Ma’s election promise that cross-strait reconciliation would resolve Taiwan’s diplomatic problems. In other words, they could well have voted for the Ma administration to uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Even though cross-strait relations have improved, China continues to attack Taiwan’s standing in the international community. Even more troubling is that the Ma administration has shown absolutely no willingness to review its policies, preferring instead to blame the previous DPP administration for failing to uphold sovereignty.
Following that logic, if Taiwanese voters had wanted another government incapable of upholding sovereignty, they would have simply kept the DPP. In a democracy, voters use elections to demand a change in government to promote continued national improvement, not to compare the faults of parties.
This does not mean that the DPP’s record should not come under public scrutiny; of course it should, but the voters already punished the DPP for its shortcomings in upholding Taiwan’s sovereignty when they elected Ma. Why then is the KMT, the party in power and therefore subject to public scrutiny, blaming the DPP for its past record?
If the government wants to show itself to be responsible, it should accept the mistakes made by the previous administration. By blaming the DPP, the Ma administration is admitting that it is unwilling to take responsibility for its own actions and is therefore unfit to rule the nation.