When a government is facing a crisis of governance, it is a sign that its administrative measures are ineffective; when a government faces a crisis of trust, it is a reflection of the obstacles to its policy implementation. However, when a government is facing a fundamental moral crisis, the result will be the total collapse of its legitimacy. Unfortunately, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is facing all three types of crisis. The tragedy is that not only are Ma, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) incapable of resolving these crises, they are also constantly adding fuel to the fire.
The back and forth on the implementation of the capital gains tax on securities transactions is a reflection of constant flip-flopping on policy grounded in incompetence. The dispute over whether to continue the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) should have resulted in a policy debate based on safety, security, environmental and energy issues, but instead the government managed to further intensify public distrust by attempting to run over the majority of the public’s opposition to nuclear power through a political scheme based on a clever application of the unreasonable Referendum Act (公投法).
The government also tried to resort to closed-door dealings to amend the law to decriminalize the expenditure of public funds on alcohol in hostess bars by elected officials, and although it had to back off and defuse the situation at the last minute after a strong backlash, it had already managed to elevate the crisis to the point where it had lost all moral legitimacy. It will now be very difficult for the government to do anything to improve the situation.
When a government whose popularity, credibility and support ratings keep plumbing new depths is faced with these three crises, it goes without saying that it should abandon its arrogance, start listening to the public and restrict its abuse of power. However, this has not been the preferred route of the Ma administration. Instead, it has chosen to continue to hide behind propaganda and large numbers of bodyguards, to duck growing social criticism and to violently suppress protesters, bringing the specter of authoritarianism back to Taiwan.
From the unjust demolition of people’s houses, despite promises to the contrary, to the opaque, closed-door negotiations over the cross-strait service trade agreement, Ma, Wu and Jiang have lost all credibility. When they fell so far that they resorted to misusing the national security forces to illegally arrest National Chengchi University professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) for calmly protesting against the government, they formally sounded the alarm against the call to “bring down the government.”
The only thing that now keeps the Ma administration in power is the high constitutional threshold for recalls: The protection of the ruling party’s legislators makes it impossible for the public to initiate a recall procedure. To turn the dissatisfaction and anger throughout civil society into concrete action for real change, it is necessary to turn to the legislature. During the extraordinary legislative session that is just about to start, legislators must give serious consideration to the question of whether they are on the side of Ma’s opinion or on the side of public opinion so that we can decide whether we should initiate recall procedures for our legislators to enable us to elect a group of public representatives that really want to stand together with civil society.
Huang Kuo-chang is an associate research professor at the Academia Sinica’s Institutum Iurisprudentiae.
Translated by Perry Svensson
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
During my twenty-two years in the US Senate, I became a student of Taiwan and its history. I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, and have made at least 25 trips to Taiwan and have been invited as an observer to two of the nation’s presidential elections. Taiwan’s continuous economic miracle has seen the nation transition from a mixed agricultural-industrial society at the end of Japan’s 50 years of jurisdiction to today’s economic powerhouse, unmatched by most nations of the world. Just as outstanding has been Taiwan’s decades of resistance and