Thu, Mar 14, 2019 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Transitional justice a crucial step

The road toward transitional justice in Taiwan is filled with obstacles. Strong opposition mainly comes from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians, who want to protect the godlike status of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國). They seem to think that the effort to rectify past unjust, fabricated or wrongful cases would expose the illusion of the party’s political achievements in governing Taiwan and severely downgrade the political legacy of the two Chiangs.

Moreover, they see transitional justice efforts as building the foundation for Taiwanese independence. They think it is aimed at desinicization and a tilt toward the US and Japan, as well as a way to sweep away the political and cultural obstacles to the establishment of Taiwan as a sovereign and independent nation.

For this reason, certain individuals and groups take repeated radical action to disrupt transitional justice. Even though the political project seems to have reached the home stretch, the final leg remains long and winding.

For Taiwan, having been ruled by authoritarian and foreign regimes in the past, the transitional justice process is necessary for the establishment of a normalized democratic country. Although the nation was ruled by foreign regimes and their representatives for several hundred years, it became an ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse society even before the transition to democracy and localization.

Ethnically speaking, Taiwan mainly consists of Austronesian indigenous peoples, early Chinese settlers, war refugees who followed Chiang Kai-shek here and new immigrant spouses. Throughout the years, these diverse ethnic groups have been integrated into a shared community, so distinct and self-determined that it by no means is “an inseparable part of Chinese territory since ancient times,” as China claims.

To emphasize that Taiwan and China do not belong to the same country, carrying out transitional justice is a necessary addition to democratization and localization, so as to remove the past dark-power politics and authoritarian rule history, and consolidate all Taiwanese even more firmly to establish a shared community.

The implementation of transitional justice not only helps integrate diverse ethnic groups and cultures in Taiwan, but more importantly, serves as a stark contrast to the dark and barbaric nature of China’s autocratic form of government, which has diverted far from the road taken by Taiwan toward achieving benevolence and goodwill. This contrast shows that unification is neither justified nor legitimate.

Regrettably, some domestic pro-unification figures ignore and even go to great lengths to smear the universal values of human rights and democracy, while the descendants of the perpetrators confuse right and wrong, turning justice upside down by labeling the advocates of transitional justice “Dong Chang” (東廠) — a Ming Dynasty secret police and spy agency.

There are also opportunistic politicians who claim to be moving beyond the traditional blue and green political divide, but in reality sit on the fence and move between the two. They repeatedly block transitional justice efforts by promoting the idea that it would cause social division and conflict.

However, this specious and twisted discourse cannot hide the sheer power of transitional justice, which shows the Chinese regime’s authoritarian dictatorship and unveils its deceit as it trumpets the great cause of reinvigorating Zhonghua minzu (中華民族, “Chinese nation”), while pursuing the Chinese imperial dream in reality.

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