A maturing democracy
Lee Min-yung (李敏勇) is right: Democratization does not just mean changing the accent of the rulers (“No normality without left and right,” Jan. 23, page 8).
A normal democracy should know its left from its right, but why stop there?
A multiparty democracy should offer voters real choices in each policy area. At least there should be a spectrum of social policies (liberal versus conservative) and another dimension for economic (competitive versus redistributive), in addition to the national-identity question. How about adding productionist versus ecologist to the mix?
The recent elections were the first where a full palette of parties worthy of a mature democracy was on offer to the electorate. In addition to the ubiquitous nationalist and communitarian factions, three parties in Taiwan are members of political internationals: Green Party Taiwan in the Global Greens, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the International Democrat Union, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Liberal International.
As the KMT continues its atrophy, social democrats in the DPP might finally feel confident enough to peel off and align with “third force” elements, to form a grouping suitable for membership in the Socialist International or the newfangled Progressive Alliance.
For another example, the Faith and Hope League would not find it hard to stand alongside old-school Christian Democrats in the tradition of Dutch-style testimonial parties.
Perhaps after a few more election cycles, “hung parliament” might even enter the glossary of the Taiwanese legislature, and coalitions have to be formed in order to govern.
It is a serious constitutional problem whether only 113 legislative seats — elected mostly by first-past-the-post — do justice to so many voices and ideas natural to a medium-sized democracy of more than 23 million people.
In November last year, a man struck a woman with a steel bar and killed her outside a hospital in China’s Fujian Province. Later, he justified his actions to the police by saying that he attacked her because she was small and alone, and he was venting his anger after a dispute with a colleague. To the casual observer, it could be seen as another case of an angry man gone mad for a moment, but on closer inspection, it reflects the sad side of a society long brutalized by violent political struggles triggered by crude Leninism and Maoism. Starting
The year 2020 will go down in history. Certainly, if for nothing else, it will be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing impact it has had on the world. All nations have had to deal with it; none escaped. As a virus, COVID-19 has known no bounds. It has no agenda or ideology; it champions no cause. There is no way to bully it, gaslight it or bargain with it. Impervious to any hype, posturing, propaganda or commands, it ignores such and simply attacks. All nations, big or small, are on a level playing field
The US last week took action to remove most of the diplomatic red tape around US-Taiwan relations. While there have been adjustments in State Department “Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan” and other guidance before, no administration has ever so thoroughly dispensed with them. It is a step in the right direction. Of course, when there is a policy of formally recognizing one government (the People’s Republic of China or PRC) and not another (the Republic of China or ROC), officials from the top of government down need a systematic way of operationalizing the distinction. They cannot just make it up as
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Saturday that the US was to drop self-imposed restrictions on meetings between senior Taiwanese and US officials had immediate real-world effects. On Monday, US Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra met Representative to the Netherlands Chen Hsing-hsing (陳欣新) at the US embassy in The Hague, with both noting on social media the historic nature of this seemingly modest event. Modest perhaps, but their meeting would have been impossible before Pompeo’s announcement. Some have welcomed this move, thinking that it is long-overdue and a step in the right direction to normalizing relations between