Tue, Oct 15, 2013 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: When social instability is required

As lawmakers assemble to vote on a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet this morning at the Legislative Yuan, chances are that the motion will fail like last year’s no-confidence motion as legislators vote along party lines.

Chances are that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would then claim — again — that the result reflects the public’s hope of a stable political and social atmosphere, and that the opposition should be condemned for stalling legislative proceedings and causing political instability.

With most public opinion polls showing that the majority of the public believes Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) should step down over poor governance and his role in the current political crisis, a failure of the no-confidence motion would reflect the very reason the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) submitted the proposal in the first place — not only has Jiang underperformed, but the legislature no longer reflects mainstream public opinion.

However, revisiting the three previous no-confidence proposals, it would be surprising to see a new outcome.

The DPP and the New Party joined hands in launching the first no-confidence motion, against then-premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) in 1999, before the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union collaborated in September last year for a no-confidence motion against then-premier Sean Chen (陳?).

Both motions failed, and both efforts were followed by the KMT telling the public that the opposition had neglected the economy by advancing politically motivated proposals, adding that the maneuvers would jeopardize social stability.

Stability could be one of Taiwan’s most familiar political terms. The authoritarian KMT regime claimed the “rioters” caused social disorder during the 228 Massacre. After that, it said the Martial Law era was required to maintain social stability. The regime told people the same things during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the democratic movement spread like wildfire through the nation — that stability came first.

Changes, reforms and protests were all welcome, it said, but changes and reforms must be nurtured incrementally. Protesters must not clash with police or disrupt traffic. Opposition lawmakers can give speeches, but not engage in disruptive behavior, such occupying the podium, it said.

The same things were said during the presidential campaign in 2000. Change brings instability and having an inexperienced party, the DPP, lead the country would be highly risky, the KMT said.

Decades of brainwashing appeared to have convinced Taiwanese that this is true. Many people tell the media that stability comes first and they could not care less about what happens in the political arena.

The concept has not only affected the public’s assessment of politics, but has also infiltrated people’s views on other issues, among them education and labor affairs, both of which could use a shake up.

Only rarely does the public think about why there were “rioters” in 1947, a democracy movement in the 1980s and legislators boycotting podiums now. Neither do they question why they think changing habits, traditions and mechanisms is always a bad thing.

The root question that had to be asked — but was not asked — was whether the KMT regime had exploited all Taiwan’s resources to help fight its civil war in China in the mid-1940s, and whether the regime’s oppression had made Taiwanese find the lack of democracy and freedom of speech intolerable.

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