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.
Taiwan is not an orphan nation in need of someone to adopt it. Taiwan is not a foundling nation wandering the streets of the world looking for a home. It is not even a poor waif of a nation unable to take care of itself in that same big, bad world. Finally, Taiwan is certainly not terra nullius, a nationless land that is open and waiting to be explored and possessed by those who dare. Taiwan is a mid-sized, democratic nation that by GDP, profitability, location and even microchip production punches far above its weight in its region and in international commerce.
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