[LETTER]

Wed, Jun 18, 2008 - Page 8

DPP should tackle Diaoyutais

It is not unlikely that right now various personnel in the US State Department are regretting their decision to implicitly undermine the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government and help elect “Mr Ma” [Ying-jeou (馬英九)] as president.

The “crisis” over the Diaoyutai (釣魚台) islands has already demonstrated that not only is the president unable or unwilling to act decisively, instead choosing to relegate the authority of the presidency to a symbolic level, he also has little or no control over legislators and members of his own party.

During the DPP’s eight years in power, president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) never initiated or passively supported any conflict with any nation, instead working on the philosophy laid down under former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) of responsible stewardship and international participation.

Indeed, it was Chen’s government that carried out the extensive negotiations on cross-strait links that made it possible for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to ink its recent deal. It also laid down a very healthy relationship with Japan which, after the US, represents our second-best security guarantee.

All this is now under threat because of jingoistic and immature saber-rattling at Japan designed to please Beijing. This troublemaker executive, masquerading as “reasonable” and “democratic,” is little more than a puppet show. The Republic of China (ROC) is back — for its swan song.

Taiwan’s historical, political, economic and cultural ties to Japan are of immense value and should not be allowed to stagnate because this short-sighted and voraciously greedy government rushes across the Strait to kowtow for peanuts in return.

This puerile tit-for-tat diplomatic spat with Japan demonstrates that whereas “Taiwan” was responsible, the “ROC” is willfully reckless; where “Taiwan” was steadfast, the “ROC” capitulates; and where “Taiwan” was maturing, the “ROC” throws a temper tantrum when its own citizens break long-standing maritime agreements as well as critical domestic law.

Thus the key problem underlying this dispute would seem to be an absence of the rule of law in Taiwan, a gaping hole in our democracy that allows individuals and governments to bypass or ignore the law at will. Action needs to be taken to demonstrate to Japan that Taiwan will make more efforts to respect international maritime law and behave in a manner befitting a nation that embodies such regional strategic significance.

The DPP could organize a delegation to Japan to resolve this crisis and begin negotiations for an economic and security “understanding.” There exists a good foundation for mutually respectful discussion since the Japanese learned to trust the DPP government.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) could ask Taiwan’s former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (�?�) and former presidents Chen and Lee to head the group, given their experience, expertise, knowledge and good relations with Japan.

Since all of these figures are now retired from active political service, they would visit in their capacity as concerned citizens.

It would also help to assure the Japanese that whatever radical and unpredictable direction this unsteady government might make, in four years’ time they will hopefully be able to resume their partnership with a more reasonable and professional DPP administration.

Ben Goren

Keelung