EDITORIAL: Vitriol displacing actual policies

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - Page 8

In both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential campaigns, little is being said about what really concerns voters, while bucketloads of scandal-related vitriol are being flung back and forth like so much confetti.

In the KMT camp, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his supporters can’t seem to say anything of substance that is not related to the Yu Chang Biologics Co case, in which his main opponent is accused profiteering from an investment deal.

Meanwhile, DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and other party heavyweights are spending all their time accusing Ma of involvement in the Fubon-TaipeiBank merger.

Both of these cases stretch back years. They have little bearing on Taiwan today and should not be the deciding factor in what is likely to be Taiwan’s most important election yet.

It is a law of politics that if you look deep enough into any politician’s history, you are bound to find something that could possibly lead to a scandal. There is no such thing as a politician who has never gotten their hands dirty. If a presidential candidate claims to be squeaky clean, that is simply because their aides did the dirty work for them.

Taiwanese should not be asked to vote for something that does not exist. They should be given a choice between the platforms of candidates from opposing parties with opposing visions of the nation’s future, and then they should choose the vision they prefer.

How do Ma and Tsai plan to address Taiwan’s economic dependence on exports, especially when those exports go mostly to China, whose bubble appears likely to burst soon?

Which party has a better plan for addressing environmental concerns in Taiwan, such as the building of chemical plants on prime agricultural land and reducing Taiwan’s ecological footprint on the world?

Do any of the candidates have an idea of what to do about Taiwan’s declining birthrate and how to shore up society against the negative effects that a population decline will produce?

Who will announce effective education reforms that could provide a better starting point for the next generation?

Do any of the candidates have ideas about how to fix Taiwan’s ailing network of water pipes, drainage ditches and drinking water reservoirs?

There are plenty of important issues that Ma and Tsai could focus on without ever touching on cross-strait relations, ethnic rivalries, party assets and skeletons in the closet.

Moreover, these areas of concern are what voters really care about. Voters hope they can choose a candidate that has plans to improve Taiwan’s future, not just empty slogans. They want evidence of a candidate’s ability to govern effectively through the introduction of a realistic policy platform.

It is a lot like a job interview: A prospective employee should not just show up to a new company with hundreds of pieces of paper saying: “I can do this job,” but nothing to back up their claims. Jobseekers need to produce a resume and a cover letter and in the interview they need to tell the prospective employer why they would be a good candidate for the job.

Instead, all we are getting is Yu Chang and Fubon. In the end, both the KMT and DPP are leaving voters with nothing to vote for but personality or party allegiance.