Sat, Sep 27, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Sovereignty vote needs backing of a movement

By Li Chung-chih 李中志

Media outlets around the world closely followed Scotland’s referendum on independence, with the issue also being followed closely here, where independence and unification with China are huge issues.

Admiring Scotland for being able to pull off such an expression of democracy, applauding the Scottish and writing articles about the issue have no real significance, although they do no harm. However, certain people have made ridiculous remarks about how Taiwan does not need to have a referendum on independence because the nation already enjoys de facto independence.

A referendum on independence is used by the people of a nation to authorize their government to officially declare dependence. If a referendum passes, then it represents the first step toward a democratic area or de facto nation in gaining de jure independence. If a referendum does not pass, then it prohibits the government from taking any further action and forces it to maintain de facto independence and the “status quo.” For Taiwan, this would mean that the government could not get any closer to China.

Just as two people living together for a lifetime in a common-law marriage are not legally married, neither can a marriage be declared legally void because a couple have been living separate lives for 100 years.

Let us suppose that a family that respected each of its members equally wanted to change such a situation. They would most probably get everyone together for a family meeting to decide whether a marriage or a divorce between the couple in question should take place. Whether that meeting would do anything to change things, or whether a thug was present trying to force things either way is another matter, the point is that the family would be trying to sort the situation out.

Of course, “trivial” legal formalities like these could be ignored. For example, a woman could continue as a mistress and think that she can maintain that position until issues such as the division of assets, custody disputes or domestic violence crop up and she realizes that she might not have the law behind her.

Supporting the idea that the nation should hold a referendum on independence is not a negation of the fact that Taiwan is currently a de facto nation. It is merely disagreeing with those who say that Taiwan is already a country with de jure independence while also opposing the idea of people using the “normalization” of Taiwan, which may seem like a safer option, to cover up the necessity there is for declaring independence.

I am not against using the name “Republic of China” to declare Taiwanese independence. The Republic of Macedonia got its flag and name from another country, after all.

For a Taiwanese independence supporter, before the nation can gain the legitimacy it needs to be a country with de jure independence, an independence movement must exist and must be aimed at nation-building rather than “normalizing” Taiwan.

If reality makes this impossible at the moment, people should first temporarily put aside the idea of seeking de jure independence and try to continue with de facto independence for a while longer. However, people should not get confused over the simple concept of de jure independence and resort to ill-advised methods to try and get their way.

The effect of this would only see the nation continue worshiping former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), welcoming more and more Chinese tourists, continuing to mistake the Sinicization of Taiwan for internationalization, and choosing students from China to represent Taiwanese students. When that happens, the likelihood of Taiwan keeping its de facto independence would indeed be very low.

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