The nations of East Asia and Alaska are important to each other in many ways. People from Alaska, in the US, have watched Taiwan make its transition to democracy and develop into a full-fledged free and democratic nation.
During last year’s presidential and legislative elections, an observer mission was organized by the International Committee for Fair Elections in Taiwan (ICFET), an international group of 19 academics from eight countries. The group concluded that while the elections were free, they were also partly unfair, as the playing field was not level, and stacked in favor of the ruling party.
Through appropriate checks and balances, the people in Taiwan can hopefully ensure that the 2016 elections will be free and fair.
While during the past 25 years Taiwan has made great progress toward democracy, there remain sharp differences about the overall direction of the country, as well as the quality of the judicial and legislative systems.
Hopefully, the new year will bring renewed efforts to bring about much-needed judicial and legislative reforms.
The judicial system still has some characteristics inherited from the martial law period. Many in the legal community have advocated judicial reform, but too often there is built-in inertia.
On the legislative side there is too often a stalemate due to the long-standing political divide.
It is time for new and charismatic leaders to come to the fore, who can bridge the political divide and bring about a political reconciliation in Taiwan.
To state the situation clearly: It is of no use to try to bring about a rapprochement across the Taiwan Strait if there is no political consensus within Taiwan.
First there needs to be a broad-based agreement among the Taiwanese about the future direction of their country. Only then can there be a unified approach that will lead to long-term stability, within Taiwan as well as across the Strait.
There is another key requirement that will need to be fulfilled in order to bring about an internal political reconciliation in Taiwan: a medical parole for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
According to recent reports from Taiwan, he is suffering from serious physical and mental ailments brought about by the deplorable conditions under which he was detained.
Whatever his misdeeds, he did not deserve to be treated in this way. He was a key leader in Taiwan’s transition to democracy, and is seen by many in the pro-democracy camp as a symbolic figure who helped bring about an end to more than five decades of one-party rule in Taiwan.
A medical parole on humanitarian grounds would help start a healing process designed to bring about more social and political unity in the country.
The political divide can only be bridged if both sides of the political spectrum move forward toward a Taiwan consensus in which all parties agree that Taiwan’s future lies in being a vibrant democracy that is a free and full member of the international family of nations.
Frank Murkowski is a former governor of Alaska (2002 to 2006) and spent 22 years in the US Senate.
With a new White House document in May — the “Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China” — the administration of US President Donald Trump has firmly set its hyper-competitive line to tackle geoeconomic and geostrategic rivalry, followed by several reinforcing speeches by Trump and other Cabinet-level officials. By identifying China as a near-equal rival, the strategy resonates well with the bipartisan consensus on China in today’s severely divided US. In the face of China’s rapidly growing aggression, the move is long overdue, yet relevant for the maintenance of the international “status quo.” The strategy seems to herald a new
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sept. 6 finished its annual national congress. However, if Taiwan wants to have a viable opposition party in its democracy, the results were far from satisfying. The KMT again seems to be caught in a time loop, like that one in the 1993 film Groundhog Day. Yet, unlike the protagonist in that film, the KMT seems unable to learn from past experience and change for the better. Instead, it remains locked in its never-ending cycle of repeating the past. To borrow from a different artistic genre, the KMT echoes Pete Seeger’s song Where Have All