Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Root of crisis lies in Constitution

By Yen Chueh-an 顏厥安

As for the present group of legislators, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, which got 1.17 million votes in the last election, only received three seats. The People First Party, with more than 700,000 voters, received two. Over 1 million voters are unrepresented. “Small” parties are in fact not very small at all, and they frequently provide systemic friction or thrust. Pressures within the electoral system are insufficient to highlight problems and provide solutions, with the result that problems simply keep accumulating. More concretely put, the system allows the KMT to continue its corrupt practices and the DPP to continue to flounder, while the public loses all confidence in the system.

Fourth, the position of the cross-strait relationship, which is crucial to Taiwan’s survival, within the constitutional system is extremely unclear, and that could be very dangerous. The amendments to the Constitution simply mention that it is necessary to write laws regulating the relationship between the people in Taiwan and China, but it is completely incapable of addressing how relations between the governments on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should be handled systemically. This is why the dispute over the cross-strait service trade agreement has descended into chaos, which demonstrates why it is necessary to pass some version of an act regulating the oversight of cross-strait agreements. The KMT wants to rely on a strictly procedural approach to avoid systemic problems. This is no longer a matter of the party sticking its head in the sand; rather, it is hitting out blindly in every direction, which will not solve anything and will only continue to hurt the public.

Fifth, along with globalization and neoliberalism, these issues have undermined Taiwan’s democracy and resulted in the development of a bloodsucking system where the rich and powerful make important decisions and the disadvantaged are exploited. The government continues to give hand-outs to the elite, legislators continue to do as they are told, housing prices skyrocket, land is stolen, salaries are stagnant, there are no guarantees for the future and even the middle class has to work its fingers to the bone.

What about the government? Apart from chanting “liberalization” and “deregulation,” it in effect continues to allow the “commoditization” and is selling out the public. The few that protest are persecuted, and the public has long been disappointed and infuriated by the government and the establishment. This is why, as the government violates even the most basic democracy, the young and non-governmental organizations have occupied the legislative chamber. It really should not surprise anyone.

Many forces, including conservative forces, are currently standing up and calling for a popular constitutional conference — a demand independent of the service trade agreement issue — and civic organizations are beginning to contact each other and organize in the hope of creating a true, visionary, popular constitutional conference that is not controlled by political or conservative forces. The constitutional crisis set off by the occupation of the legislative chamber has also created an opportunity for a democratic revival. Let us grasp this opportunity and initiate a second democratic reform.

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