There is no question that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government that came to power on May 20 has not offered the friendliest of environments for the remnants of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government. After all, accusing the nation’s (now former) representative to Japan, Koh Se-kai (許世楷), of “treason” over his handling of the Diaoyutai (釣魚台) islands incident is hardly the kind of behavior one would expect from an inclusive government.
Still, this does not mean that the few representatives and heads of state-run companies appointed during the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) era should heed the DPP’s call to quit their posts lest the KMT use them as “scapegoats” for its missteps, which have been plentiful since it assumed power. On the contrary, it is under circumstances such as these, with the stock market on a downward spiral, growing social discontent over rising commodity prices and strained alliances with allies, that a country needs a multiplicity of voices — more importantly, voices within the government that, despite strong resistance, are nevertheless in a position to effect change.
The need for different opinions and solid political experience has never been greater now that the KMT has displayed its ineptitude, proclivity for balderdash and lack of tact. Old hands who steered the ship in the past eight years have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and made many contacts that could help stabilize the situation. And they certainly could offer better, more reassuring policies than pleas to have “faith” in the stock market, or unnecessarily alienating a good ally over an incident of little consequence.
Given its winner-take-all attitude, the KMT could make life difficult for DPP appointees who choose to stay in government. Staying put would involve working against the current, requiring no small amount of personal sacrifice. But this is what patriots are made of — individuals who put the welfare of the nation before political affiliation or personal comfort, who defy the odds in the name of the country that entrusts them with heavy responsibilities.
By calling on the remnants of the DPP government to jump ship before the failings of the KMT government tarnish their image, the DPP is only replicating the zero-sum approach to politics of the KMT. This risks giving the impression that the DPP cares more about its image than the health of the nation. DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has every reason to say that she is “concerned” — a word she used repeatedly at a function with foreign correspondents on Friday — about the way events have unfolded since the KMT came into office. She was also right to say that the DPP has nothing to gain from the KMT doing serious — possibly irreparable — damage to the national interest.
But if she meant it when she said she wanted her party to be seen as one that puts the nation first and its interests second, Tsai and the rest of the DPP leadership would encourage the few DPP appointees left in government to stay behind the lines and to fight as hard as they can to protect the interests of the nation.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has over the past few months continued to escalate its hegemonic rhetoric and increase its incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. The US, in turn, has finally realized how its “strategic ambiguity” is increasingly wearing thin. Similarly, any hopes the US had that the PRC would be a responsible stakeholder and economic player have diminished, if not been abandoned. Taiwan, of course, remains as the same de facto independent, democratic nation that the PRC covets. As a result, the US needs to reconsider not only the amount, but also the type of arms
Taking advantage of my Taipei Times editors’ forbearance, I thought I would go with a change of pace by offering a few observations on an interesting nature topic, the many varieties of snakes in Taiwan. I will be drawing on my experiences living in Taiwan five times, from my teenage years in Kaohsiung back in the early sixties, to my last assignment as American Institute in Taiwan Director in 2006-9. Taiwan, with its semitropical climate, is a perfect setting for serpents. Indeed, one might say serpents are an integral part of the island’s ecosystem. Taiwan is warm, humid, with lots of
China constantly seeks out ways to complain about perceived slights and provocations as pretexts for its own aggressive behavior. It is both victimization paranoia and a form of information warfare that keeps the West on the defensive. True to form, China objected even to the innocuous reference to Taiwan at April 16’s summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Neither leader’s prepared remarks even mentioned Taiwan, out of deference to the Japanese side. Biden’s opening statement was modest: “Prime Minister Suga and I affirmed our ironclad support for US-Japanese alliance and for our shared security.
There is no ambiguity when it comes to war. Ambiguity begs for certainty and a lack thereof has historically led to war. History is full of examples: Europe’s and the US’ ambiguity as to how they would respond to Hitler’s growing territorial expansion in Europe was certainly a contributing factor to World War II. In the same vein, US ambiguity toward Japan’s expansionist militarism in the 1930s clearly led to the Pearl Harbor attacks that started the war in Asia in 1941. Ambiguity in a world with leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will inevitably