Sun, Jul 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

End of Martial Law: Pan-blue figureheads criticize DPP on 30-year anniversary

By Cheng Hung-ta and Shih Hsiao-kuang  /  Staff reporters

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday, while speaking on the nation’s transition from an authoritarian regime to a democracy, hinted that he saw autocratic tendencies in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since it took office.

Ma made the remarks at a symposium in Taipei to mark the 30th anniversary of the lifting of martial law.

Ma, who served as then-president Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) English interpreter in the 1980s, recalled how he acted as a translator during Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham’s interview with Chiang on Oct. 7, 1986, during which Chiang told her that the government was planning to lift martial law in the near future.

“I felt as if an electric current had passed through my body,” Ma said about the event.

Chiang not only grew up under an autocracy, but headed one, Ma said.

He praised Chiang for his resolve to end the “dictatorship” he inherited from his father, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), calling it a rare feat in history.

Ma was 37 when martial law was lifted, and said he was fortunate to have witnessed such a historic moment.

Thirty years after the end of martial law, the nation is still growing as a democracy, but there are many causes for concern, he said.

“Everyone is criticizing the nation’s authoritarian past, but can anyone resist the temptation [of practicing autocracy] after assuming power? The public will form its own judgement,” Ma said, in apparent reference to the DPP government.

Separately yesterday, People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who was head of the now-defunct Government Information Office during the Martial Law era, praised Chiang Ching-kuo as the facilitator of the lifting of martial law.

Despite his frail health at the time, Chiang Ching-kuo was steadfast in his resolve to push for political reforms in the public interest, Soong said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Acting Vice Secretary-General Yang Yung-ming (楊永明) on Friday praised Chiang Ching-kuo while denouncing the DPP’s “persecution” of the KMT and its “bullying of the masses” as “neither democratic nor progressive.”

Chiang Ching-kuo’s democratic legacy is undeniable, he said, adding that the booming political scene and newspaper industry that followed the lifting of martial law were evidence.

In contrast, the corruption charges against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) showed that the DPP government is corrupt, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is causing rifts among social classes, he said.

The DPP wants to manipulate public sentiment by commemorating the anniversary, but while it was reflecting on the past, it should also reflect upon itself and the arbitrary policies it had pushed through, such as the “one fixed day off, one flexible rest day” labor rules and the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, Yang added.

New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) on Friday said on Facebook that 30 years after Taiwanese politics became liberalized, democracy had developed into populism, the pursuit of human rights had become the pursuit of privileges and “anti-Chinese Communist Party” has been perverted to “anti-Republic of China.”

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