Thu, Feb 28, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Rethink independence referendum

By Chin B. Su 蘇成彬

Before beginning, I would like to offer a quote: “Idealism is for the ages, but practicality is for now.”

The year 1986 marked the founding of the Democratic Progress Party (DPP), when martial law was still in force. The mood was tense in anticipation of a brutal crackdown on a cohort of risk-taking founders. Overseas independence activists were barred from returning.

Kuo Pei-hung (郭倍宏) was one of the independence activists residing abroad who, despite having a very successful business, took the risk of returning to Taiwan by illegal entry to evade arrest. The risk taken by Kuo and others paid big dividends in paving the way for Taiwan’s transformation from an authoritarian state to a flourishing democracy.

After about 40 years of frustrations in working to achieve the goal of “authentic” independence, Kuo, the founding leader of the Formosa Alliance, is now calling for a referendum on independence and changing the island’s name from the “Republic of China” to “Taiwan,” amid growing threats from China.

His move conflicts with President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) cautious stance on the independence issue, creating a serious rift between the administration and the alliance. This rift may affect the outcome of next year’s presidential and legislative elections, with negative consequences concerning Taiwan’s sovereignty.

All can agree that Taiwan must not fall into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), either by force or by the “one country, two systems” trap. Under the CCP, 30 to 60 million Chinese perished during the Cultural Revolution, and an untold number of people died during the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” still is the CCP mantra, as demonstrated by its hegemonic occupation of islets in the South China Sea.

Former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), referring to China’s leadership, once said: “It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big dictatorship, it is the biggest dictatorship in the history of the world.”

Even an old communist guard, [Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) former secretary] Li Rui (李銳), who recently died at age 101, said: “The communist leadership [Mao] put no value on human life, the death of others meant nothing to them.”

Nowadays, arbitrary incarceration of 1 million people in the so-called “re-education camps” in Xinjiang and the daily arrest of people serve as a reminder of the atrocities that the CCP is capable of committing. No one is safe — pan-blue or pan-green supporters. In the event the CCP gets its hands on Taiwan, the 228 Massacre may look like child’s play by comparison.

Against this backdrop, does Kuo wish to proceed with the referendum push?

Assume that the referendum is enacted, it is a sure bet that the CCP threat of invasion would become even more belligerent and intimidating. This threat conflated with a deluge of cyberdisinformation could cause public havoc that may negatively affect the outcome of the referendum.

Basic survival instincts, based on innate evolutionary genetics in human species, could likely set in, causing the public to not vote, or even to vote “no” on independence and “yes” for unification.

When this scenario comes to pass, then Taiwan could be lost without a single shot fired. The US cannot even come to the rescue, because a formal US condition regarding the status of Taiwan requires the consent of Taiwanese.

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