Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

By Jerome Keating

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is in the midst of a new lengthy process to select a candidate for next year’s presidential elections. They expect the results by tomorrow.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), an independent, has also said he would make his decision on whether to run sometime in August, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has its candidate, incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

So what should voters do in the interim? They need not passively sit on the sidelines. People can and should be formulating criteria to use when analyzing and selecting their next president.

With this in mind, a basic litmus test that should be passed by all presidential candidates follows what could be called the double D, double I rule. Where do they stand on democracy, identity, defense and introspection?

Why question a candidate’s belief in democracy? It is an election year, so belief in democracy would seem obvious.

However, in Taiwan, this question goes deeper. The importance of preserving democracy is easily lost in all the hoopla that develops as each candidate seeks to gain a “catchy” edge.

Therefore, democracy must be the sine qua non in any candidate’s platform.

The biggest threat to Taiwan’s existence is the ever-present challenge from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) across the Taiwan Strait.

The PRC continually denies Taiwan’s right to existence and threatens to attack if it formally declares the independence that it already has.

Since democracy is at the heart of Taiwan’s existence, it is a crucial criterion.

Democracy did not come easily to Taiwan. It was won from the KMT’s one-party state after a long struggle. Taiwanese should never forget the price that past generations paid for it.

Candidates and voters should also realize that democracy and China — or any one-party state for that matter — do not mix.

If this is not obvious, Taiwanese have the constant, ever-present reminder of Hong Kong. The PRC promised full democratic elections in Hong Kong for 50 years; it was part of the transfer agreement with the UK that came into effect in 1997.

Yet China, a massive nation with 1.4 billion people, remains afraid of allowing a promised democracy to the comparatively minuscule 7.4 million Hong Kongers.

What threat does this democracy pose? Why does China work to continuously erode Hong Kong’s remaining freedoms?

The answers should be obvious.

If Taiwanese voters hear any candidates using words or phrases such as “pro-unification,” “brotherhood,” “one family,” etc., when referring to China, they should immediately realize that they have already decided to sell out Taiwan’s democracy.

The same applies to candidates who drag out the bogus “1992 consensus” that was invented by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2000. They reveal a desire to hold on to the alleged dream of unification, albeit perhaps with different masters.

This leads to the second criterion: identity.

Where do candidates stand on Taiwan’s identity? Do they see themselves as Taiwanese or Chinese? This is not about cultural roots or ancestry, but about a person’s central thought and paradigm of nationhood.

Here, Taiwan’s history and imagined community are totally different from that of the PRC. In Taiwan, democracy is a key ingredient of its identity; in China, it is absent.

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