EDITORIAL: Ma sabotaging Taiwan’s democracy

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 - Page 8

A delegation headed by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) departed for China yesterday and is today scheduled to meet with Chinese President and Chinese Community Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平). It is the first such meeting under the KMT-CCP communication platform since Xi took the CCP’s helm in November last year. Among the delegation are former National Security Council secretary-general Su Chi (蘇起) and former KMT vice chairman Chan Chun-po (詹春柏), who was also the office director of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) KMT chairmanship re-election campaign.

At first glance, some may describe the meeting as conventional, posing no threat to Taiwan. They would then be buying into Ma and the KMT’s claims that the political party-to-party communication channel serves to develop cross-strait ties and that more channels of communication help stabilize cross-strait relations.

Surely no one could object to options that improve cross-strait relations. However, what sort of “win-win situation” is there for Taiwan when the so-called “improved cross-strait relations” of the opaque KMT-CCP communication platform is built on marginalizing Taiwan’s democratic mechanisms? And where has the government’s integrity gone when its authority appears to have been usurped by this political platform setting the agenda for cross-strait development?

A meeting is scheduled for tomorrow in Taipei to set up a round of talks between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘). At the to-be-scheduled talks a cross-strait service trade agreement is expected to be signed.

All this delivers an unsettling sense of deja vu: In May 2008, two months after the KMT returned to power, then-KMT chairman Wu immediately headed a delegation to Beijing to meet then-CCP general secretary and Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and touched on cross-strait charter flights and tourism. Less than one month later, the SEF and ARATS inked two agreements on weekend charter flights and opening Taiwan to Chinese tourists.

In response to concerns that the KMT-CCP forum could dictate cross-strait development, Ma has often said that this would not happen because all matters decided through the KMT-CCP communication platform must be approved by the government and agreed to by the SEF and ARATS.

Such assurances carry little weight, because the KMT-dominated legislature appears to blindly endorse any agreements ratified by the SEF and ARATS.

Taiwan is a democratic country, and yet the most crucial democratic element — public oversight and participation — has been shut out of the negotiation process.

Adding insult to injury, Ma reiterated to Wu prior to his departure in a meeting on Monday that Taiwan and China “do not have state-to-state relations.”

Granted, Ma may justify his statement with reference to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution, which states that ROC territory includes China. The point is that China does not recognize this constitution. In other words, Ma’s insistence that Taiwan and China do not have state-to-state relations ends up pandering to Xi because it translates to “Taiwan is not a country.”

The nation’s democracy may be lauded as successful, but a chapter of sabotage from within is unfolding under the lead of the Ma government. This government disregards the voice of the people, while it clings to the concept of “leading the government with the party.”