Freedom will save the day

By Huang Jei-hsuan  / 

Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 8

Taiwan's democracy is in the midst of the most trying period of its young life.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) went to Beijing and came back with three infamous "accomplishments" under his belt -- namely, his derision of Taiwanese democracy, his subterranean agreement with Beijing's definition of "one China" and his proclamation in alliance with China to root out "Taiwan independence."

In the absence of outside threats and interference, formal independence would surely be the top choice for most Taiwanese. Simply put, it's the unavoidable development of a growing democracy. Therefore, any attempt at eradicating the idea of Taiwan's independence is tantamount to putting a straitjacket on Taiwan's democracy itself.

Lien's playing footsie with Beijing on the "One China" principle is an act of treachery, whether he is legally prosecuted or not. But his selling out of democracy to a despotic collective made evident his contempt for the former.

The common thread of all three "accomplishments" underscores his resolve to subvert Taiwan's democracy in cahoots with his Beijing handlers. Depending on how much other pan-blue leaders fall in line behind him, a new wave of assault on democracy could ensue.

Most likely, the Legislative Yuan, in which the pan-blue camp currently enjoys a majority, would be cranked up another notch in an attempt to further paralyze the government of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). In essence, these pan-blue legislators would be continuing a five-year-old scorched-earth effort of undermining Chen administration.

Foremost among their goals is to accentuate the inefficiency of democracy. Taiwan's democracy could then be so insidiously discredited that the gap of living a regular life within a democracy (as in Taiwan) and without democracy (as in China), would seem to be narrowed.

But if the pan-blue leadership were to continue on the same obstructionist path after Lien's trip to Beijing, regular folks would soon realize that the pan-blue leaders, now in full and overt collaboration with Beijing, intend to destabilize Chen's government and bring about the surrender of Taiwan to China.

These people know that if Taiwan were to become a second Hong Kong, they would fare even worse -- likely much worse -- ? than today's Hong Kong people. The only ones that would enjoy special privileges would be pan-blue leaders.

As soon as people reach that conclusion, they -- ? including pan-blue supporters, with the exception of those marginal die-hards -- ? would turn against the pan-blue leaders. By that time the initial euphoria of seeing the image of the KMT making up with the Chinese Communist Party and the accompanying false sense of approaching peace would have evaporated, replaced by the anxiety of the prospect of losing, once and for all, the hard-earned freedom of choice.

Between China and Taiwan, freedom will prove to be the one gap that can't be narrowed.

Ultimately, it's the fear of irreversibly losing freedom -- ? the other face of democracy -- that could play a major role in bringing Taiwan back from the brink.

Huang Jei-hsuan