Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - Page 8

A voice worth keeping

Although many thousands of kilometers away, the election fight for a San Fernando Valley US congressional district seat in California will have ramifications for Taiwan. Howard Berman, a staunch supporter of Taiwan, former head and now senior Democratic member of the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the US Congress for 30 years, is fighting for his seat in Congress against Brad Sherman, a fellow Democratic Party congressman, as a result of redistricting in the general elections in the US on Nov. 6.

Why does this matter to Taiwan? To be quite frank, it matters because there are not enough members of Congress who have the courage of their convictions to speak out directly and often about treating Taiwan like a country, and helping Taiwan in every way possible to keep China at bay. The US administration’s policy toward China can only be characterized as one of appeasement.

There are those in the US government who support Taiwan, but only to the extent that politically correct thinking allows. That means following the majority in a vote in the US Congress that might support Taiwan, or saying something generally supportive of Taiwan’s democratic government.

These same senators, congressmen and government officials might be heard from time to time whispering something about how bellicose China has become, but truthfully, for a country which is supposedly the protector of democracy, mere whispers by the US government are unacceptable.

There are those few in the US government, led by people like Berman, who have the courage to lead when it comes to helping Taiwan. They stand up and speak frequently and freely about how important Taiwan is to the free world, how important it is to help Taiwan resist the constant threat coming from China and how critical it is for the future of mankind that Taiwan remain a free and independent democratic beacon on China’s doorstep.

Taiwan is a light of hope to the more than 1 billion people under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian rule. Taiwan shows that democracy in China is not only possible, but in fact absolutely necessary for the future of the world.

Berman has fought totalitarianism wherever he has found it, boldly, bravely and without pause, appeasement or apology. The US government could use less appeasement and more of the kind of leadership and courage that Mr Berman has shown year after year.

The election is many thousands of kilometers away, and while the San Fernando Valley district seat covers an area and population far smaller than Taipei’s, the outcome is critical for Taiwan and for the billions living under tyranny in China and Asia. We cannot afford to lose a voice like that of Howard Berman’s, a man who is not afraid to do and say the right thing.

Lee Long-hwa

Los Angeles