Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Transforming rhetoric into policy

By Ian Inkster 音雅恩

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is the leader of a liberal party; highly educated, sophisticated and savvy. What more can people want? Here is a leader with no White Terror coloration adhering to her — indeed in all senses she is firmly of the democratic era and of the new Taiwan.

All of which must boost the growth of liberal democracy in Taiwan, wrenching politics from cronyism, ancient biases and entrenched interests, and underhanded dealings amongst a clique of old men. Together with the vastly increased variety — and decreased age — of the legislative council and a firm majority even without alliances with vibrant new parties, the scene is set for reformist democracy.

Let Taiwan no more be long on rhetoric and short on policies. A healthy liberal democracy needs more than words spoken, it needs policies implemented. Tsai has a mighty task ahead of her, however favorable the circumstances might seem.

The main task over the next weeks is to focus on Taiwan and its economic and social problems. This cannot be done without avoiding being caught in the prevailing rhetoric and this is already being sputtered out abroad.

Tsai did her doctorate at London School of Economics — a major center of British political and legal training. The election result was announced in the UK on BBC Radio 4 at 7:30am on Saturday last week, where the DPP was referred to as the pro-independence party whose victory would “set the country on an uncertain course” with China.

Half an hour later at 8am the BBC was interviewing members of a large crowd supporting Tsai’s final speech, quoting those who wanted an “emphatic separation from China,” who said that “I am Taiwanese not Chinese.”

However, it also interviewed a Chinese tourist who said that: “We are all one family we can never be separated” and that any attempt in Taiwan to do so would mean that “we will have to fight them.”

Perhaps the BBC can be forgiven if by 8pm GST time their news reporting was even more certain that “the DPP wants independence from China.”

Given the declared policy of Tsai and the DPP is maintenance of the “status quo,” such an insistence seems obtrusive or careless, or both.

Or it is simply a common perception abroad?

It is precisely that perception of the DPP that Ma would have liked to have emphasized more than he did in the weeks prior to the election.

So, although many estimated that China would be less of an issue in this presidential election than in any before it, some argued that it was all the more likely to appear again as a greater issue soon after Tsai won victory.

People cannot effectively stop this from happening by appealing to foreigners to think twice, to China to leave well enough alone, or to the defeated KMT to get serious and think outside the box. Nor does the DPP or anyone else at present seem to have any neat formulae for solving the dilemma of living within a contradiction — the nation is in a “status quo” that has lasted years, given its starkly contradictory nature and insecure historical foundations.

This is far from saying that there is no potential longer-term resolution of the problems posed by relations with China.

However, there is no resolution in the months ahead and perhaps for some years, for much depends on what happens in China, and how its relations with the world evolve, and these things are beyond the voter’s influence.

This story has been viewed 2689 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top