A new model of political participation, with civil society replacing the government as a dominant force that could enforce substantial changes, would help Taiwan turn over a new page this year, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in her New Year’s message yesterday.
“If everyone began the process by paying attention to their communities and expanded that effort to public policies, the action and efforts would converge and ultimately become a power that could change the country,” Tsai said in a statement published on the Web site of her foundation, Thinking Taiwan Foundation.
Taiwanese have had a tough year, in which they suffered from increased poverty, a high unemployment rate and higher commodity and housing prices because of an ineffective government, Tsai said.
However, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has not helped and is not willing to listen to the public, she said.
Tsai said her most serious concern about Taiwan was the public’s desperation and loss of the pride, poise, confidence and optimism that were passed on by their ancestors, who never gave in to challenges in life and created an economic miracle and democratic transformation in the face of all the hardships.
That was why “my thoughts are the same as many of you as the New Year arrives, pondering how we can improve our livelihood and help Taiwan come out of the dark valley on our own, if the government is no longer dependable and trustworthy,” she added.
Numerous cases in the past year showed how the Ma administration had not only ignored public appeals, but had also unilaterally implemented policies that the president regarded as reforms, but were not in line with the public will.
“I would say that has been one of the biggest reasons why Taiwan’s running around in circles,” she said.
Luckily, she said, the power of civil society was rising and more students and people with no specific political affiliation had devoted their energy to public affairs, as evidenced by the public protests against illegal land expropriation in Dapu Township (大埔), Miaoli County, the Kuokuang Petrochemical project in Changhua County and media monopoly.
“Fairness and justice are no longer a political slogan, but a value that everyone’s willing to step forward and defend,” Tsai said.
“And it’s going to be a new model of collective participation and for people to let their voices be heard,” she added.