Out of crisis comes opportunity
By the Liberty Times editorial
After the presidential election, the three major demands of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance -- a recount of the votes, an investigation into the so-called "truth" behind the shooting of the president and the vice president and an explanation of the so-called "national security mechanism" that was triggered by the shooting -- were all agreed to by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
\nAll these matters have now come under judicial investigation.
\nThe secretaries-general of the two major camps began an official dialogue this week.
\nIt is generally believed that the truth is about to come out. But in times like these, both the ruling and the opposition camps should patiently wait for the final results of the judicial proceedings.
\nThey have an even greater responsibility to address the ethnic rivalries that the election triggered and return society to peace and harmony.
\nHowever, on Wednesday, KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) demanded that the Presidential Office provide a quick response to his camp's demands, saying the government "should not underestimate the power of the people."
\nTing Shou-chung (丁守中), director of the KMT's Organization and Development Affairs Committee, said in a harsh tone that if the administration did not immediately meet the pan-blue camp's demands, many people wouldn't be able to wait until May 20 and that the KMT-PFP alliance would mount another massive rally in front of the Presidential Office.
\nBy then, he said, "the situation may not be as sensible as last time."
\nSuch stern and hawkish talk by the KMT-PFP alliance added a level of uncertainty to the somewhat eased political tensions, casting a shadow in the minds of people.
\nAfter the election, the KMT-PFP alliance alleged that the election had been unfair and mobilized mass rallies in protest. The emotional crowds not only took over the square in front of the Presidential Office but stormed various government buildings in Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei.
\nSome radical lawmakers even stated that "the trumpet of the revolution has been heard." China's Taiwan Affairs Office said that China will "not sit idly by" in the event the situation in Taiwan gets out of control. All these things together produced a sense of disquiet on the eve of the KMT-PFP rally on March 27.
\nThis disquiet created serious division and polarization. Among friends, co-workers, neighbors and even within families, people fought with and distrusted each other as a result of their different political stances. Society faced a grave risk of serious damage.
\nThe protests in the old days were made to challenge the totalitarian government and fight for democracy. Now, the protests inflamed by politicians are causing people to break up into two camps.
\nWith such hatred and grudges among people, once conflicts ignite, fighting could bring everyone to a destructive end. Except for China, which will be able to benefit from this, no one in Taiwan can escape a tragic destiny if such divisions truly erupt. Therefore, with the March 27 rally having come to a peaceful end, and the crowds in front of the Presidential Office having located elsewhere, allowing order to be restored, we believe that every politician who genuinely loves Taiwan will listen to the voices of the majority of the people with a humble heart and avoid taking the country down the path of destruction.
\nThe ridiculous thing is this -- politicians from the pan-blue camp are apparently unable to stop themselves from threatening protests. They are getting ready to launch more protests at a time when their supporters are calming down, threatening that "the situation may not be as sensible as last time." This seems to suggest that they couldn't care less whether confrontations result -- as long as the demands of the pan-blue camp are met.
\nWe understand that some hawkish members of the pan-blue camp think that maintaining social order is the responsibility of the ruling party, and that the pan-blue camp -- as the opposition, no longer in a suit and tie -- should not care about the underlying social costs of their protests. This kind of logic reveals that the opposition gives priority to party interests over the interests of the country.
\nThough the opposition can cast aside concerns about social costs, it will pay a hefty price as well: legal liability for one thing and political responsibility for another. If the mass protests result in bloodshed, those who led the protests will have to face the legal consequences. They will not be entitled to "legal immunity" merely because of their belief that "the truth is with us."
\nPolitically, most people find it hard to accept the costs created by disorderly protests -- such as social unrest, violations of the law, withdrawal of foreign capital, a decline in consumption and in the stock market, depreciation of the NT dollar, injuries to the nation's image in the international community and a decrease in overseas tourists -- regardless of whether the protests have any legitimacy.
\nBy forcing people to pay these costs, the opposition may remain in the opposition indefinitely, becoming despised or even vanishing altogether.
\nTherefore, if the opposition is truly thinking about a comeback, it must remain socially responsible. The word "opposition" is no excuse for acting irresponsibly.
\nPeople can understand how the pan-blue camp must feel about suffering a defeat by such a narrow margin. However, frankly speaking, all the allegations by the pan-camp about the election being unfair, thus far, are made purely out of emotion and are based on unverifiable rumors. The pan-blue camp has failed to submit any concrete evidence to prove illegality in the election.
\nElections in Taiwan are not only administered in a transparent and open manner, but all parties are entitled to send people to monitor and supervise the process. The more than 200,000 front-line election administrators are all civil servants and teachers. Under the circumstances, the impartiality in the administration of the election is beyond question. To say otherwise is a personal insult to these election administrators. While some may have made careless mistakes in the performance of their duties, allegations of their tampering with the ballots are pure nonsense.
\nAs for the shooting of the president, while the motives of the shooter or shooters may be unclear, the investigation by the police and the information provided by the hospital where Chen was treated should have been sufficient to dispel any allegations that Chen fabricated the shooting. The suspicions of the KMT-PFP alliance are not reasonable suspicions at all but instead are derived from hatred and dissatisfaction with certain individuals.
\nDespite the fact that the legitimacy of the pan-blue camp's protests is so shaky, a majority of the people nevertheless has been tolerant toward the mass rallies. As for the pan-blue camp's three major demands and its shifting and escalating requests, Chen could have ignored them but he willingly cooperated with them. This is because most people have swallowed their anger, decided to be forgiving and to remain silent in hopes of facilitating social harmony for the good of the country.
\nNow that the judicial process has begun and all the disputed issues are expected to be resolved, the KMT-PFP alliance should be more appreciative of the patience and tolerance of the great majority of the people and rely on peaceful and rational means to advance their cause.
\nRelying on legal mechanisms to resolve disputes, rather than inflaming the emotions of crowds and inciting them to take to the streets yet again, is the way to facilitate truth, fairness and righteousness.
\nTurn a crisis into an opportunity, so that the people of Taiwan can enjoy peaceful and stable lives.
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