President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Nov. 24 announced that she is stepping down as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson after the party suffered a string of stinging defeats in the nine-in-one elections. She did so amid a public outcry over her poor and inadequate leadership.
The public trusted and chose Tsai, gave DPP candidates an overwhelming majority in the Legislative Yuan and rejected the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the 2016 presidential and legislative and 2014 local elections. No more than three years later, Tsai has sown despair and dissatisfaction with her government in the hearts of the public.
Unlike her predecessors, Tsai did not present herself as someone strong and determined to challenge increasing financial, military and political pressure and threats from Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said that Taiwan and China had a “special state-to-state relationship.”
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) stressed the importance of national security and said that Taiwan and China were “one country on either side.”
Both supported the Taiwanization movement and campaign for admission to the UN.
However, from day one, through the nearly three years of her presidency and the DPP’s legislative majority, Tsai has continued to support the “status quo,” despite mounting military, political and financial pressure from China.
China has crossed red lines too many times, yet she dares not challenge it. In domestic affairs, she has stripped Premier William Lai (賴清德) of power, appeased Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and torpedoed former DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智). This has angered most Taiwanese.
Tsai obviously does not support Taiwanization for fear of provoking China. Xi does not care. Instead, her weakness allows and encourages Xi to exert more pressure in all directions.
Consider her most important campaign points in 2016 to overhaul the nation’s judicial system and pursue transitional justice. After more than six months of meetings and conferences, which turned out to be waste of time and money, what result or action could the government offer? The authoritarian past and collective memory are still vivid, and justice has not been served.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed all judicial officials after an unsuccessful coup d’etat in July 2016. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte completely overhauled immigration and customs authorities when unlawful bribery was exposed.
How about Taiwan? Who allows Chinese national flags to be displayed in many corners of Taipei, the nation’s capital? Who allows Taiwan’s flag to be confiscated and destroyed at international sports events in Taiwan?
Who tolerated and allowed disinformation and fake news to be spread by major newspapers and TV stations in Taiwan ? Who allowed massive cyberattacks by China to disrupt democratic elections? Tsai and her administration have embraced such actions as acts of freedom of expression protected by the Constitution.
Tsai’s administration has jeopardized national security and safety. What a difference a strong leader would make.
Tsai’s apology is not enough. She has betrayed democratic values, and the trust and honor given to her by many millions of Taiwanese. Her meeting with Ko this week further exposed her self-centered pride and dictatorial nature.
Her unprincipled attitude and presidency have ruined the Taiwanization movement and the pride of being Taiwanese. Say “no” to her presidency: Ask her to resign and let Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) lead.
Cheng Tien-chu is a former president of the North American Taiwanese Medical Association.
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