Sun, Jul 17, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Get rid of Ma to save a hard-won democracy

By James Wang 王景弘

Opinion polls show the majority of people believe the indictment of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to be a matter of political manipulation and persecution because Lee’s talk about “ousting Ma to save Taiwan” has threatened President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) chances at re-election.

The “oust Ma to save Taiwan” mantra hits straight at the heart of the matter. It has frightened Ma, who has resorted to the political persecution of Lee.

That Ma has issued this judicial threat makes it clear that he is trying to eliminate anyone who promotes a Taiwanese identity.

Lee’s slogan sounds familiar. In the early 1970s, the US started to change its policies toward China, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his entourage were kicked out of the UN and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) diplomacy collapsed.

The supporters of the traditional system of government lost momentum and Chiang’s son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) became premier, putting in place a policy of “implementing reform to protect Taiwan,” employing ethnic Taiwanese and carrying out what US diplomats referred to as “Taiwanization.”

With the “implementing reform to protect Taiwan” strategy up and running, Lee, at the time a technical specialist at the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, was suddenly catapulted up several levels in the official ranks, and joined Chiang Ching-kuo’s Cabinet as a minister without portfolio.

It seems likely that Lee understood that this was linked to the political environment of the time and Chiang Ching-kuo’s efforts at “protecting Taiwan.”

Chiang Ching-kuo’s relying in “Taiwanization” to save Taiwan was criticized by his father’s former officials, who said it violated his father’s feudal idea that “gentlemen and thieves cannot coexist.”

However, movements to “save Taiwan” were, and still are, aimed precisely at stopping Taiwan from being swallowed up by “thieves.”

When Lee became president, he was even more active in carrying out democratization, localization and ending hostilities with China, and his interactions with China were based on the principle that Taiwan’s sovereignty and independence must not be harmed. The purpose was to “save Taiwan” and to make sure that it was not annexed by China.

After having experienced Chiang Ching-kuo’s attempts to save Taiwan through reform, Lee of course cannot agree with how Ma neglects consolidating a domestic consensus for democracy, human rights and the protection of Taiwan and instead does all he can to forge a “one China” consensus with China, which has greatly endangered Taiwan’s sovereign and independent status.

Chiang Kai-shek had no concept of democracy or nation and was fond of quoting ancient chancellor Zhu Geliang’s (諸葛亮) aforementioned saying about how “gentlemen and thieves cannot coexist.” Ma, who has received a modern democratic education, quotes the author of the centuries-old Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which says that “after a long split, a union will occur and after a long union, a split will occur.”

Ma is not committed to saving Taiwan and is more interested in accepting China’s “peaceful” annexation. The “oust Ma to save Taiwan” mantra is extremely powerful because it highlights how Ma has betrayed Chiang Ching-kuo, Lee and the vast majority of Taiwanese who are unwilling to see Taiwan annexed by China.

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