It was announced last week that an election watchdog made up of prominent figures from at home and abroad would be set up to observe Taiwan’s Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections.
The committee is tasked with ensuring that the presidential and legislative polls are free and fair, and it will also observe the four-month transitional period after the elections, a role that could prove crucial considering recent reports on Chinese meddling in the elections.
Although President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) denied that Beijing backed his re-election when he was interviewed by the BBC’s Chinese-language Web site late last month, numerous media reports have suggested otherwise.
Following an analysis published on Nov. 25 by Japan’s Sankei Shimbun which said that China is searching for ways to influence Taiwan’s presidential election, the latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine yesterday reported that Yang Xiaodu (楊曉渡), head of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work Department’s Shanghai office, voiced his support for Ma’s re-election at a meeting with a visiting Taiwanese group headed by Chang Chao-kuo (張朝國), who also happens to be deputy honorary chairman of Ma’s campaign support group.
It now looks as though the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will have to compete not only against Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but also against the CCP, which has apparently decided that its support for Ma no longer needs to be kept secret, the Next Magazine report claims.
People First Party Chairman and presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) said that “Taiwanese need to be their own masters.”
The question is how can Taiwanese be their own masters when the KMT has joined hands with the CCP to campaign for Ma’s re-election.
While it is genuinely touching that so many international friends care enough about Taiwan’s democracy to want to serve on the election watchdog, Taiwan’s fate ultimately rests in the hands of Taiwanese themselves and their votes.
Anyone who takes pride in being Taiwanese and values the nation’s transformation into a genuine democracy is duty-bound to resist China’s threats and inducements, and to stand up and denounce anyone who uses outside forces to influence the outcome of the election. Any such act is clearly detrimental to the health of Taiwanese democracy.
Both Soong and DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday told China to keep its hands off Taiwan’s elections.
Ma’s re-election campaign office also said it is firmly opposed to any Chinese interference in the elections, but that is simply not enough.
As the sitting president, it is Ma’s responsibility to uphold Taiwan’s dignity as a democratic country. It is therefore incumbent upon him to issue a stern statement condemning Chinese attempts to influence Taiwan’s presidential election.
Failure to do so only indicates to Taiwanese that Ma is unable or unwilling to defend the nation’s pride and sovereignty, and the he does not deserve a second term in office.