The road to Singapore
Since 2008, Taiwan has slowly reverted to an authoritarian democracy in the mold of Singapore.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government has gone to the extreme, abusing the government apparatus and resources and even changing the presidential election date for its gain. Subject to Beijing’s coercion and pressure, Taiwanese tycoons in China have become hostages of that country, forcing them to play an additional unfair factor in this election.
These factors, coupled with the KMT’s ill-gotten assets and control of the media, have firmly transformed Taiwan into an authoritarian democracy. It will always have elections, but with the KMT having a lopsided advantage.
Meanwhile, in his remarks to supporters after winning his re-election bid, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was seen gloating again. He said the election result indicated support and recognition of his determination to strike against corruption and he did not forget to mention that his wife is forever an “opposition party” at home.
Apparently, in addition to reinforcing his base, this comment was aimed at further trampling the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and polishing his nice-man image. The election night was his “show time.”
The next four years will also be his show time. For Taiwan, given this showman’s proven incompetence, the next four years will spell Nightmare Part 2. Brace tight during the slide (I mean it), my fellow Taiwanese.
A response to Jacobs
While I can concur with Bruce Jacobs’ observation of the political situation immediately after Taiwan’s joint elections on Jan. 14 (“DPP faces hard truths after defeat,” Jan. 16, page 8), I have reservations with the two examples he cited for faulting the DPP’s handling of foreign media.
Granted, it would have been nice if then-DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had agreed to those two interview requests from the Washington Post and the Financial Times, but I cannot quite agree with Jacobs’ leap to the conclusion that “Tsai was unable to counteract the negative feelings among Washington officials, such as the White House’s National Security Council.”
When Tsai visited Washington in September last year, she met with officials from the US Department of State and the National Security Council to explain her views and policies toward China. However, while Tsai was still in Washington, the Times reported that an unidentified senior US official said Tsai had left US President Barack Obama’s administration with “distinct concerns” about her ability to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait.
It is thus doubtful that more newspaper interviews could have helped Tsai when her face-to-face meeting with US officials did not seem to have won over the Obama administration’s high officials even though the State Department appeared to be satisfied with the DPP chairperson’s visit.
Regarding the second example Jacobs cited, I can speak with certainty. Yes, a group of Taiwanese-American professors, of which I was one, did complete a translation of the DPP’s 10-year policy platform. After having completed the translation of all 19 chapters of the platform, our coordinator sent it on to the DPP headquarters for review and approval for release.
We got a reply indicating that “the ideal situation is that each chapter being reviewed by the person[s] who drafted the platform, but it would not be able to complete” the review and approval process in a few weeks’ time. Our view is that the reason for the delay was a shortage of manpower within the DPP, rather than “a key aide to Tsai” blocking its release. In any case, we did subsequently send the English translation of the DPP policy platform to the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA). And we do believe that FAPA must have since made it available to the US press as well as US congressional officials.