Tue, Jun 11, 2013 - Page 8

DPP accomplice to KMT plot

Every democratic system in the world has its own unique characteristics. Some countries are careful to build in, and observe, rules and procedures to avoid having institutions hijacked by certain special interests, or to ensure an accurate level of representation of public opinion.

Other countries manifest the outward appearance of democracy, but have a gray political economy where true power and decision making lie.

When the political makeup is long-established two-party systems, the largest parties both play a major role in the gray society, being confrontational toward each other in public and providing for all intents and purposes the appearance of a distinct choice during elections.

In the US, both the Republican and Democratic parties are center-right parties that eschew any policies that are opposed by major business corporations and their lobbyists.

In the UK, Labour and Conservatives now differ only in the degree to which they think neo-liberal economic policies should be restrained, re-inforced or deepened.

In Taiwan, the recent scandal concerning the Accounting Act (會計法) has severely hurt the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), tainting it with hypocrisy and opportunism.

That the scandal has not hurt the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to anywhere near the same extent is mostly down to the fact that Taiwanese have very low expectations of a party they know to have been entirely corrupt, violent and coercive from its inception.

The public is angry with the DPP because it was initially formed to give people an alternative to the party they associate with China, martial law, the use of the judiciary to conduct political prosecutions and “black gold” politics.

The DPP tried to play a game designed by the KMT, of the KMT and for the KMT and it failed.

The DPP, in enabling an amendment seemingly specifically designed for the exoneration and early release of former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), made itself an accomplice to a stunningly cynical KMT legislative ploy that effectively legitimizes corruption by select officials.

If the KMT’s goal in the last 10 years was to ruin the DPP’s reputation in the public eye by bringing it down to its own level, the goal has been met.

In its naivety and arrogance, the DPP has lent a helping hand.

For the KMT, democracy only has a purpose if it provides a system the party can easily gerrymander to its advantage.

Power in the gray society depends on control and influence over public institutions, policies and budgets. Institutions of state end up being a means to an end, providing window dressing to legitimize powerful people furthering their own private financial and political agendas.

Exercising this power also depends on keeping accountability and criticism restricted.

For example, the KMT-instituted law forbidding “insulting government institutions” is a relic of the Martial Law era, and an instrument of pressure, coerced submission to authority, blind obedience and censorship.

While political parties continue to cynically undermine the judiciary and rule of law by using the legislature to benefit powerful members of the gray society, Taiwan’s democratic transition remains unfinished and perhaps under threat.

Ben Goren