The DPP’s decisionmakers are blurring the rights and wrongs of the matter, and they have a guilty conscience about it. Compared with its resolute opposition to political repression in the past, the DPP is now a shadow of its former self.
The DPP’s unwillingness to face up to its own history has gotten it caught in the historical whirlpool surrounding Chen. On the one hand, the party cannot pass the test of clean government, and it still finds itself in the shadow of a government turned corrupt. On the other hand, it cannot distance itself from the position that there are two separate nation states on either side of the Taiwan Strait, so that people always suspect it of seeking de jure independence for Taiwan.
Who has the most cause to celebrate the DPP’s unconditional acceptance of Chen’s application? Without doubt, the KMT has gained the most from it. Mired as Ma’s government is in all kinds of difficulties, he has suddenly been presented with a great way of showing that the opposition party is even worse than his own.
He must feel as if a great weight has been taken off his shoulders. The KMT has been getting very worried about its prospects, but now it must be gratified to see how the DPP has given up its quest for progress. Much to the KMT’s delight, the curse of Chen Shui-bian is something it can still use against the DPP.
While the Ma government has gone from plain incompetence to out-and-out abuse of its authority, the DPP has gone from not knowing what to do about developments in cross-strait relations to letting Chen rejoin. Now it is plain for all to see that the main contest between the nation’s two main parties is which of them is the most complacent.
Just as Ma is not worried about seething resentment, the DPP does not care about its lack of a clear ethical stand. Since both parties have lost the will to engage in introspection, Taiwan’s democracy will for the time being be mired in political rivalry of the shoddiest kind.
Julian Kuo is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.
Translated by Julian Clegg