The drive for signatures for national referendums to coincide with the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections has ramped up, with two issues standing out: three proposals against same-sex marriage and a proposal to change Taiwan’s designation from Chinese Taipei to Taiwan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The same-sex marriage proposals represent the downside to putting so much power in the hands of the public — it gives hate groups a voice and a chance to further propagate their ideas. These anti-LGBTQ organizations have been making noise for a long time, but this actually legitimizes their cause in the eyes of the public by giving them a concrete reason and target to go out and persuade people to agree with their views.
It also provides the government with more excuses to keep ignoring the issue until it automatically goes into effect next year, as it has maintained that more reviews are necessary before enacting legislation to formally legalize gay marriage, because there are still parts of society that do not agree — even though it is just a small segment of society that seems to openly bash same-sex marriage.
This segment has now been given a weapon to further their hateful agenda of discrimination — just by virtue of gathering enough signatures. There should be some sort of mechanism to filter or regulate these petitions, otherwise the government will be dealing with more than it can handle. Seeing the success of these petitions may encourage other people who want to further their agenda to do so, and what should have been a wonderful democratic gesture could turn into nothing but a tool for divisionism and discrimination.
Furthermore, the Council of Grand Justices has already ruled that not allowing same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, and even if the government does nothing, they will become legal next year. The only possible effect is that since the referendum specifically refers to the Civil Code, the government may be compelled to enact a special law to allow same-sex marriage, which most LGBTQ advocates are adamantly against, as they want equal rights, not special rights.
No petition will be able to undermine same-sex marriage, and these anti-LGBTQ groups know it. They just want more exposure and, hopefully, to strike a blow to the LGBTQ community by not letting them completely get their way. This is basically an insult to democracy and a total waste of public resources, as the Central Election Committee estimates that one referendum would cost NT$450 million (US$14.6 million), with each additional referendum costing NT$100 million.
The Olympic name change is a different matter — it is a given that most Taiwanese want to participate in international events as Taiwan, not under the hated name Chinese Taipei. However, this will likely prove to be largely symbolic, because even if the government responds and changes the team’s name to Taiwan, it would still need the approval of the International Olympic Committee. If the committee says no, will Taiwanese athletes stay home in protest and waste four years of preparation, like the nation did in 1976 and 1980?
Yes, the petition will rattle Beijing (it has already responded through the East Asian Youth Games incident) and provide a chance to show the world what Taiwan wants, a voice that is often drowned out by Beijing’s constant propaganda. However, in the end, it is not practical. On Monday, the Chinese Taipei Olympians Association spoke out, expressing concern that the referendum would cost Taiwan its membership in the International Olympic Committee. It is a legitimate risk that is seemingly being ignored in the whole national pride rhetoric.
Like it or not, referendums are here to stay, but these symbolic ones seem to be overshadowing the ones that might actually affect people’s everyday lives — such as one about the minimum wage.
In Chinese author Lu Xun’s (魯迅) novella The True Story of Ah Q (阿Q正傳) — one of the earliest works of modern Chinese fiction, first serialized in 1921 — the story’s hapless protagonist, Ah Q (阿Q), is a poor itinerant worker from China’s peasant class, living during the part-feudal, part-colonial dying embers of the Qing Dynasty. Ah Q is a feeble and psychologically flawed individual who bullies the meek and cowers before the powerful. Despised and regularly mocked by villagers, after every episode of public ridicule and failure, Ah Q consoles himself that he has won a “spiritual victory.” Utterly
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would render the company’s plants inoperable, and that such a war would produce “no winners.” Not only would Taiwan’s economy be destroyed in a cross-strait conflict, but the impact “would go well beyond semiconductors, and would bring about the destruction of the world’s rules-based order and totally change the geopolitical landscape,” Liu said in the interview, according to the Central News Agency. Bloomberg columnist Hal Brands wrote on June 24: “A major war over Taiwan could create global economic
Washington’s official position on US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is that nothing has changed: The US government says it is maintaining its “one China” policy, that Pelosi is free to arrange international trips with congressional delegations independent of the government and that she is not the first US official to visit Taiwan even this year. Yet there is no denying that the fact and the optics of the second-in-line to the US presidency speaking with lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan about inter-parliamentary discussions and learning from each other as equals are hugely significant, as were
Amid a fervor in the global media, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her congressional delegation made a high-profile visit to Taipei. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) awarded a state honor to her at the Presidential Office. Evidently, the occasion took on the aspect of an inter-state relationship between the US and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, despite no mutual state recognition between the two. Beijing furiously condemned Pelosi’s visit in advance, with military drills in the waters surrounding coastal China to check the move. Pelosi is a well-known China hawk, and second in the line of succession to