It would be difficult these days to ignore all the grumbling about how "messy" the road to next year's legislative and presidential elections has become. And with election time just around the corner, those voices are bound to become even louder.
It has not, indeed, been a pretty picture. The electoral painting so far consists of precious few strokes of originality, several blotches of character assassination and equal daubs of sheer stupidity, gallons of promises, layer upon layer of empty rhetoric and swaths of unused canvas. Moreover, the two principal artists who have worked on the project have not been given the same amount of paint, which has resulted in an imbalanced artwork, with far more blue than green.
We've also seen the machinations to rig (or refashion, depending on one's view) the Central Election Commission in the hopes of avoiding a deplorable historical truth, accusations of platforms stolen, repetition ad nauseam of a supposedly sagging economy, the "one vote" versus "two vote" war of attrition and the UN referendum, joined at the hip by its Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-hatched evil twin.
Throughout all this we have had the probes into alleged corruption and the Democratic Progressive Party's asinine proposal yesterday that the immediate relatives of those responsible for the 228 Incident be legally accountable to the victims' families -- all cynical efforts that only the long dead would fail to associate with the elections. Ugly indeed.
But before you start planning something other than a visit to the polling booth on election day, think of this: Are elections elsewhere -- in countries where elections are actually possible -- any better? A brief survey should enlighten us.
In the democracy of democracies, US President George W. Bush, who lost the 2000 election by any reasonable measure, has been in the White House for seven long years. Across the Florida Strait, Cuban President Fidel Castro, who likes to call Cuban elections "the most democratic in the world," is not even directly elected by citizens.
Populists, meanwhile, like to boast of popularity levels that are so laughable as to be equaled only by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's -- and that was at gunpoint. Hugo Chavez has sought (but seems to have failed and will likely blame the US) to become president for life, while Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose term is up, is trying to devise a way to stay in power. In Pakistan, meanwhile, Pervez Musharraf has been dismembering democracy one judge at a time in preparation for elections, the outcome of which is known by all.
Closer to home, the Philippine president cannot even leave the country without fearing she might not be president when she returns. Thailand, for its part, has had so many coups we've lost count, while in Hong Kong, despite pro-democracy Anson Chan's (
The truth is that democracy is a cacophony and the inherent freedoms it guarantees allow individuals to exploit and contort and distort. Imperfect though it is, Taiwan's democracy works, and when you weigh it against the many other democracies and quasi-democracies of this world, it doesn't fare too badly. Transfer of power has occurred peacefully, the military is safely under civilian control and will not take to the streets whenever the president leaves the country.
And anyone who would propose becoming president for life would be laughed out of town so fast that he or she would have no choice but to flee to China or any other country whose political system makes a travesty of democracy.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose
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There are few areas where Beijing, Taipei, and Washington find themselves in agreement these days, but one of them is that the situation in the Taiwan Strait is growing more dangerous. Such a shared assessment quickly breaks down, though, when the question turns to identifying sources of rising tensions. Several Chinese experts and officials I have consulted with recently have argued that Beijing’s increasingly belligerent behavior in the Taiwan Strait is driven mostly by fear. According to this narrative, Beijing is worried that unless it puts a brake on Taiwan’s move away from the mainland, Taiwan could be “lost” forever. They
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who died on Thursday last week, coined the phrase “new Taiwanese” and used it in some of his public speeches. The concept of “new Taiwanese” was an important link in the chain of his political thought. Lee proposed the term in August 1998 on the eve of the anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. His intention was to consolidate a common understanding around the idea of “new Taiwanese,” and to embody the Taiwanese spirit of never giving up and not fearing hardship, and to create bright prospects for generations to come. However, after