In democratic politics, major national policies are established based on public opinion. Only autocratic, dictatorial and non-democratic political parties see the will of their deceased leaders as national guidelines in order to secure power.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was skyrocketed into his official career under the party-state system and his anti-democratic record is clear for all to see. Although he was elected through a democratic mechanism, he only took public opinion into consideration before the election. Since his election, Ma has showed no signs of considering public opinion. Instead of concerning himself with the opinions of the living, he holds fast to the opinions of the deceased.
Indeed, it is the tradition of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to consider the opinion of previous leaders when ruling the country. Dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) embraced Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) thought, Chiang’s son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) followed his father’s, and even former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was forced to follow Chiang Ching-kuo’s ideas for a while. Now Ma’s turn has come, and he has made the spirit of Chiang Ching-kuo at the mausoleum in Touliao (頭寮), Taoyuan County, part of his political capital. So surely he should insist on following the younger Chiang’s thought.
Although Ma has learned of the beauty of power based on the thought of a deceased leader, he is not following Chiang’s opinions, but those of his late father Ma Ho-ling (馬鶴凌): Dissolution of the independence movement and a gradual slide toward unification with China, followed by eventual unification. Mid-level party hack Ma Ho-ling’s will has overridden the will of the two Chiangs.
To Taiwanese, the perspectives of the two dictators were not entirely terrifying. The elder Chiang called for the implementation of the Three Principles of the People, retaking China, the revitalization of Chinese culture and defending democracy. His son carried on the heritage by demanding that the government and the public be determined to fight the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and recover China. He also urged soldiers and civilians to accelerate the restoration of China and reunification under the principles and the guidance of the late president’s instructions.
Key anti-CCP slogans such as “recover the mainland” were the tools the KMT used to resist democratization. Even Lee was surprised that he had to promote unification with China along these lines in the early days of his rule.
Although these slogans did not win over everyone, they ensured that Taiwan would not be sold out to the CCP and that at least Taiwanese would be free of the fear of being controlled by yet another foreign regime and a different system.
Ruling a country based on the will of a deceased leader runs counter to democratic principles. Ma has strayed even further by betraying the premise for unification according to the Chiangs and instead following his father’s line of thought. Not only has he failed to defend democracy, he has crawled into the pitfall of communist dictatorship. Under Ma, Taiwan has become a region of China. The Chiang family is detestable, but the Ma family’s attempts to sell out Taiwan are even more dangerous.
James Wang is a media commentator.
TRANSLATED BY TED YANG
The US intelligence community’s annual threat assessment for this year certainly cannot be faulted for having a narrow focus or Pollyanna perspective. From a rising China, Russian aggression and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to climate change, future pandemics and the growing reach of international organized crime, US intelligence analysis is as comprehensive as it is worrying. Inaugurated two decades ago as a gesture of transparency and to inform the public and the US Congress, the annual threat assessment offers the intelligence agencies’ top-line conclusions about the country’s leading national-security threats — although always in ways that do not compromise “sources and methods.”
Let’s begin with the bottom line. The sad truth of the matter is that Beijing has trampled on its solemn pledge to grant Hong Kong a great deal of autonomy for at least fifty years. In so doing, the PRC ignored a promise Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) made to both Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the wider world back in the early 1980s. This was at a time when Beijing, under Deng and his successors, appeared to be seeking an equitable accommodation with the West. I remain puzzled by China’s recent policy shift. Was it because Hong Kong was perceived
The recent removal of items related to Japanese Shinto culture from the Taoyuan Martyrs’ Shrine and Cultural Park has caused an uproar. The complex was built as a Shinto shrine by the Japanese during the colonial period, but was transformed into a martyrs’ shrine commemorating veterans of the Chinese Civil War after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan in 1949. Figurines of the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu Okami were allowed into the shrine for a cultural event last year, attracting throngs of visitors to see the Shinto decorations and practices. However, some people accused the Taoyuan City Government of
The “US skeptic” and “Lai skeptic” arguments are gaining traction in Taiwanese political discourse, and might become a major campaign issue in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. The former says that the US cannot be trusted to defend Taiwan should China launch an invasion, while the latter says that Washington does not have the faith in Vice President William Lai (賴清德) — a self-described “pragmatic independence worker” who is seeking the top job — that it has in President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). There is precedent for concern after the way US President Joe Biden handled the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and