Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (
"Looking back over the past few years, it's clear that the pan-blue camp's middle-generation elite -- such as Ma Ying-jeou and [Tai-chung Mayor] Jason Hu (胡志強) -- tends to be more conservative when it comes to sensitive issues such as ethnicity, independence and unification, referendums and the like," said Chiu Hai-yuan (瞿海源), a professor of sociology at National Taiwan University.
Questioning the legality of Chen's planned March referendum, Ma on Tuesday described Chen as a "red-handed criminal in action."
Ma's rhetoric immediately drew a sharp response from Cabinet spokesman Lin Chia-lung (
"Ma's reactionary stance has been consistent," Lin said. "A referendum serves as the best mirror for politicians in Taiwan, exposing any anti-democratic attitudes they harbor."
Taking their offensive a step further, members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yes-terday fired a volley of criticism at Ma, with DPP Legislator Julien Kuo (郭正亮) branding Ma "a serial anti-democracy criminal (民主的累犯)."
"Looking back at Taiwan's road to democracy, Ma had always jumped out to block the moves and made such statements, as in the cases of opposing legislative reforms and direct presidential elections," Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang (
Su was referring to the reform of the Legislative Yuan in 1991 and the first direct election of the president and vice president in 1996.
Until then, presidents of the Republic of China (ROC) were chosen by the National Assembly, which was first elected in China in 1947 to carry out the duties of choosing the president and amend-ing the Constitution.
Re-established in Taiwan when then-president Chiang Kai-shek's (
It wasn't until June 1990 that the Council of Grand Justices mandated the retirement of National Assembly members, which became effective in December 1991.
Like the National Assembly, representatives elected in the Legislative Yuan in 1947 and 1948 held these seats "indefinitely" until the grand justices 1991 ruling.
The second National Assembly was elected in 1991. A majority of members were elected directly, while some were chosen from party slates in proportion to the popular vote.
The National Assembly amended the Constitution in 1994, which paved the way for the direct election of the president and vice president in March 1996.
In 1994, the Legislative Yuan also passed legislation to authorize direct elections for the positions of Taiwan provincial governor and mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung municipalities.
As Taiwan underwent these democratic transitions, Ma, a KMT stalwart, came out to oppose the changes in order to safeguard the interests of his party.
At the time Ma said the president should be elected by the reformed National Assembly, rather than by direct election.