Editorial:Chen can't rely on Lien's stupidity

Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 8

Lien Chan's (連戰) behavior over the weekend illustrates quite vividly why large swathes of the population now call him Lien Dai (連呆) or "Lien the stupid." On Saturday he challenged Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to hold a referendum on Taiwan's independence "if he had the guts." Quite the language of the football terraces, isn't it: "Come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough." But can anybody actually make sense of Lien's challenge?

Lien appears to think that since Chen is so keen on independence, if he "had the guts" he would hold a referendum on it. What nonsense. Nobody wants a referendum on this topic and to do so might even spark war with China. So Lien is basically advocating a policy which could lead to war, just to show off his machismo.

Lien has once again demonstrated the total incoherence of his thinking. After all, Chen promised not to hold a referendum on this topic. So Lien is criticizing Chen for keeping his promise. He has also managed to give Chen an excellent opportunity to point out the current limits of the Referendum Law (公民投票法). The kind of topic proposed by Lien is specifically deemed by the law as being ineligible to be put to a vote. It is not a matter of "guts," but the law.

Not that Lien bothers much about the law any more -- and why should he? For four years his party has been conspiring with China to sell out Taiwan. Since March he has been involved in trying to overthrow the nation's democracy through both civil and military insurrection. Men have been labeled traitors and hanged for doing much less than Lien. If Chen "had the guts," he would prosecute Lien for treason.

But perhaps it's rather like having a mad beggar who hangs around making a nuisance of himself in your lane. You know quite well that a little intimidation will get him to clear off, but his condition is so wretched that you feel to use such tactics would make yourself contemptible.

But obviously for Chen there are more than moral considerations here. Lien is the best possible reason anyone could have to not vote for the pan-blues. If there are any wavering voters out there, all they have to do is look at the absolutely shambolic poltroon, incapable of logical or even rational thought, whose "leadership" has produced the vacuum that is the KMT's election strategy -- and whose denial of reality shows a clear need for serious psychological help.

Lien's antics can only help the pan-greens. But what does not help them are Chen's own. Last week he accused the pan-blues of trying to arrange a "soft coup." Those who have been identified, or identified themselves as the ringleaders of this alleged coup attempt have categorically denied that any such thing took place. Chen has said he has iron-clad evidence, but has not revealed any of it. By not doing so he risks being castigated for making the same groundless allegations that have always been a speciality of the pan-blues.

Those who believe that Chen has the goods have rationalized the wait over the last week by saying that Chen has been leading the blues further and further into denial so he can utterly destroy their credibility when he does release the evidence. We would like to believe this is true.

But we are worried. If Chen is waiting for the pan-blues to dig their own grave, then surely they have dug deep enough. This accusation is not just stupidity akin to the pan-blues' "bulletgate" nonsense. It calls into question something fundamental: whether the opposition is prepared to play by the rules of constitutional government. We need to see Chen's evidence and we need to see it now.