Fri, Jan 24, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Re-engage for ‘rule of the people’

By Huang Kuo-chang 黃國昌

Ill winds are blowing through Taiwan. The old regime has been restored and the will to reform has faltered. Core values are being eroded and morale is at a low. In the face of all this, ordinary Taiwanese have become disoriented and are at a loss as to what the future holds. A general sense of malaise has descended; people feel that all is futile and there is no way out. It is as if people are imprisoned combatants, their will to fight back dissipating as the stale air in the cell slowly thins, depriving them of oxygen.

The hard-won democracy that the public wrested from the authoritarian regime has been watered down to just one election every four years. The electoral system itself has been corrupted by money, politics and the games that are played. It is now a contest fought between the corrupt and the corrupt.

Participation in democratic elections in this country, without the financial clout of party assets or the support of local factions, is a futile exercise, a mug’s game. Elections are a foregone conclusion, the roster of our elected officials decided by the financial clout or local support the political parties can bring to bear, and these representatives will simply toe the party line and protect the interests of the factions rather than act as spokespeople for ordinary Taiwanese.

Irrespective of which party or faction is in power, the winner is always big business and the suits, the financial groups and multinational corporations. They are also the ones who are really running the country.

When judicial oversight bodies intentionally fail in their duties in order to secure the favor of those in power, they not only become puppets to those who would abuse power, they also give these people confidence to carry on with impunity. The only constant is that it is the general public who are the victims.

This is how it is that people have unwittingly been giving their children milk tainted with melamine, consuming drinks full of plasticizers and preparing food with mislabeled cooking oils.

And after all these food scares, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) chum Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) can still keep his position as minister of health and welfare. It was only because of these concerns that people discovered that senior government officials have been using imported olive oils and did not need to worry about what was on their plates. Meanwhile, unscrupulous capitalists are out of harm’s way in the upscale, downtown Taipei apartment complex The Palace, paid for with borrowed cash.

When an incompetent leader is never called on to take responsibility for his mistakes and is allowed to keep his position — all smiles — there is clearly something terribly wrong with politics in this country.

Equally, when the majority of the economic benefit from the people’s collective toil ends up in the capitalists’ overseas bank accounts, it is evident that social justice is not working.

When the government’s main source of revenue comes from earners of average incomes while a handful of people at the top of the economic pyramid pay proportionately low taxes compared with their incomes despite having robbed society of most of its wealth, it is obvious how politics and money are conspiring to exploit ordinary people.

Despite how much people may rail against this pernicious system, they find themselves absolutely helpless, pushed around and wounded with no way of getting the justice they deserve.

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