Mon, Jan 16, 2012 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: INTERVIEW Political analyst foresees troubles ahead

Following President Ma Ying-jeou’s re-election on Saturday, political analyst Nan Fang Shuo sat down with the ‘Liberty Times’ (the ‘Taipei Times’ sister paper) staff reporter, Tzou Jiing-wen, to discuss how Beijing will now apply more pressure and seek to reinforce the basic structure of the ‘one China’ framework, ensuring Taiwan is unable to escape the framework whoever becomes president in the future

Political commentator Nan Fang Shuo speaks during an interview with the Liberty Times yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): How would you interpret the results of Saturday’s election?

Nan Fang Shuo (南方朔): Everyone will probably look at the margin by which Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) won the election, but I would compare his final vote count on Saturday with what he got four years ago. Looked at that way, Ma actually lost about 1 million votes [Ma won by 2.2 million votes in 2008, while wining by 760,000 on Saturday] and [Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost] 17 legislative seats as well. Yes, Ma won the elections, but only by a very slim margin.

What I’m more worried about is that the government needs to enjoy the support of the majority of people to make big reforms. If this government only won the elections by a small margin, then it is less likely to be able to push through larger reforms or making large adjustments.

The 50-50 division of support for the political parties [KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)] that has been talked about used to be more conceptual, but after this election, it really is a 50-50 [split along the lines of support in] the public.

In this kind of society it is hard to form a consensus, which can cause elements of internal division to grow, leaving the government with just one undivided power, its administrative power. He (Ma) might think that administrative power will make it easier to implement the policies he finds easiest to do and set aside the harder things. However, such an approach can only lead to trouble. Therefore, I am worried that it will be extremely difficult to re-adjust national [policy] direction and deepen political reforms over the next four years.

Also, in this sort of society, it is easiest to follow the basic international trends: International bodies present a set condition and it becomes easier to do everything within those confines. However, it becomes very difficult to exceed these given condition and all society is forced to follow the international situation. Has this kind of situation not already appeared in Taiwan?

LT: Are you referring to the growing influence of China over Taiwan?

Nan Fang Shuo: Exactly. After the elections, I saw the headlines of a certain paper, and to be frank I felt uneasy seeing the title, which read: “We’ve Won, the ‘1992 consensus’ has won.”

This shows that it [the consensus] is the one thing it [the Ma administration] is most smug about, and from this election we have also seen that the deciding factor at the end was the “stability card” that the “1992 consensus” offered.

The reason I am worried is that I do not think that cross-strait relations over the next four years will be as stable as before. Everyone knows Beijing and Taipei have their own different understandings as to what the “1992 consensus” means. Putting aside the debate as to whether the “consensus” exists or not, it is itself inherently controversial, and yet we have seen businesspeople who are not clear about the situation come forward and talk about it.

If you were in Beijing’s shoes after this election, wouldn’t you be worried that the situation in Taiwan could change in a moment; we [the Chinese] put a lot of effort into this “1992 consensus,” but now the KMT is being sly and dishonest. So I’m going to take advantage of the fact that Taiwan now is very weak and use the many goals and policies bundled into the “1992 consensus” and seek their implementation during the four years when you [Ma] are in power. Now that you have no more bargaining chips, and your business and cultural sectors are leaning evermore toward us [China] in the end you will have to accept many of the conditions that I [China] propose.

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