Taiwan’s democracy has gone into reverse and been undermined by practices that bypass democratic procedures since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday during a campaign stop in Chiayi City.
It was during a meeting at Hsi-men Presbyterian church, renowned for its support for democracy and activism against the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) authoritarian regime in the past, that Tsai mentioned her concerns about democracy in Taiwan.
“The decline of democracy in Taiwan is alarming,” she said.
This year’s Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit rated Taiwan as a flawed democracy with a ranking of 37, down one from last year, while Japan and South Korea were both considered full democracies, she said.
The DPP chairperson then turned her focus on Ma, who is seeking re-election, and who said during a televised appearance on Friday that Tsai’s position on Taiwan’s national status that “The Republic of China [ROC] is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the ROC” was “unconstitutional.”
“Interpretation of the Constitution is not absolute, as the Constitution allows flexibility, which stems from tolerance of different opinions,” she said.
Tolerance is the keyword, Tsai said, adding that if Taiwan remains divided as a society and a country, it would be unable to move forward and deal with the enormous challenges it faces in the future.
Tsai said she disagreed with Ma’s use of national identity as a campaign tool.
In his platform presentation on Friday, Ma said the so-called “1992 consensus” and the idea of “one China with different interpretations” were both constitutional and had been the foundation of improved cross-strait relations over the past three-and-a-half years, adding that Tsai’s refusal to accept the consensus would jeopardize cross-strait engagement.
Ma’s mentality in his dealings with China over the past three years also suggested that he might risk Taiwan’s democratic values to achieve his own agenda, she said.
Tsai reiterated that Taiwanese remain divided on cross-strait issues and that a democratic process was therefore needed to formulate a real “Taiwan consensus” — the main focus of her China policy — to first find common ground before negotiating with Beijing.
On the basis of tolerance, Tsai said, anything could be included in the discussion on a consensus — including unification.
The way that the KMT turned its agreement with the Chinese Communist Party in 2005 into a state-to-state consensus without going through the legislature and consulting Taiwanese was inappropriate and violated the basic principle of democracy, Tsai said.
In the afternoon, Tsai told about 10,000 farmers and fishermen in Huwei Township (虎尾), Yunlin County, that her administration would protect the agricultural sector if she were elected next month.
Farmers and fishermen have too often been sacrificed during Taiwan’s pursuit of industrialization and her administration would launch a “new agriculture movement,” with plans to invest more public resources, encourage young people to work in the industry, raise compensation for natural disaster, promote domestic consumption and improve food self-sufficient rate.
Yesterday marked the first day of Tsai’s latest series of campaigns stops in the lead up to Election Day. A total of 36 large rallies are scheduled before Jan. 14.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up