Commenting on the Sunflower movement in May, Hon Hai Group chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) said: “Democracy alone does not provide food to eat.”
However, democracy is the only power that the poor have to protect themselves against the rich and powerful. It is because of democracy that politicians are obliged to pay attention to the lives of ordinary people and to address the issue of the distribution of wealth within a nation.
It is easy for the rich to build connections, entice cooperation, obtain high posts and enjoy “the good life.” Of course, there are rich people with a conscience and a vocation, but they are the exception: Most rich people, it seems, do not believe in the “one person, one vote” concept. And they do not care about democracy.
That being so, if you are not a rich person, you should not listen to the majority of rich and powerful, those who do not care about democracy. The man and woman on the street can only achieve reasonable wealth distribution through the exercise of their democratic rights. From this perspective, it is not a fanciful assertion to say that democracy can indeed provide food to eat.
The authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime is the biggest threat to Taiwan’s democracy. It is trying to use business to push for “unification,” and if it succeeds, the party will deprive Taiwan of democracy.
Many of the rich and powerful people who do not care about democracy seek only their own interests, despite the risk of Taiwan being controlled by Beijing if it becomes overdependent on the Chinese market. They are rashly locking Taiwan into the “one China” market.
When elections come around, these elites try to intimidate the general public with vague threats about what will happen to the economy if voters fail to comply, while trying to tempt the public with promises of economic growth. At the same time, rich and powerful cliques try to manipulate media outlets to influence election results, helping parties and candidates that Beijing favors to win.
As a result, more politicians try to curry favor with a hegemonic China and pay less attention to the public’s needs. As the significance of each vote is devalued, the democratic system exists in name only, while people who are entitled to their democratic rights become the biggest victims.
Thus, if you are not a rich person, you should really care about democracy. You must not be shortsighted or look for instant gains and must oppose parties and politicians who are helping the CCP gain control of Taiwan, to make sure that the nation’s democracy remains vibrant and does not fade away.
This is something that many celebrities, wealthy people and media outlets will not tell you.
However, if you are a rich person, although you do not have to strive for reasonable wealth distribution through democracy, you still have to face all the certainties and uncertainties that life throws at you: aging, illness and yes, eventually death. It is advisable, then, to be charitable and cultivate your spiritual life.
Safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy to protect the general public’s democratic rights is the biggest, most important thing that you could do and will earn you merit.
You must never help parties and politicians who are unconcerned about the CCP’s control of Taiwan to do anything to the detriment of the nation’s democracy.
Otherwise, you would be doing evil, turning yourselves into Beijing’s servants, while the public can merely hope for mercy to be shown.
Chang Shyue-yih is a professor in the School of Medicine at National Yang-Ming University.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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