I’ve long been a believer in retributive democracy — in other words, using election to “punish” governments for their misdeeds. But the way things are going right now, with the judiciary acting in a way that is reminiscent of Garrison Command in Taiwan and using the “law” to target a widening circle of pro-independence officials from the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration (while dropping cases involving members of the pan-blue camp), would waiting until 2012 to achieve this too long a wait? Some other form of mobilization is direly needed, both in Taiwan and abroad among its supporters, but I’m just not seeing it! I see many bystanders shaking their head, but some odd (if not inexplicable) sense of powerlessness seems to prevent them from acting. I find this hard to explain and welcome my Taiwanese readers to share their views on this: What they think is the cause of this, and means by which this could be remedied.
I’ve written many pieces calling on Taiwanese to get “angrier” and to not act like sheep — all well received — but this led nowhere. Someone with gravitas in Taiwan (and this has to be a Taiwanese) will have to rise up and say enough is enough. The Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration, and now the judiciary, are just not listening. I increasingly wonder if the tool of democracy might not be unsuited for a situation like this, when one side in the “conflict” simply acts in an undemocratic manner.
Thoughts on the 10 Conditions
On a related subject, it is interesting to see how often Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Chinese officials accuse the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of trying to “cause trouble” or “derail” cross-strait talks through shenanigans such as inviting the Dalai Lama and presenting The 10 Conditions of Love, the film about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. What the KMT doesn’t seem to understand is that the DPP, along with the opposition writ large, feels powerless, mostly because of the KMT’s quasi-total control of the executive and legislative branches and its refusal to listen to public apprehensions and to explain its policies. It blames the opposition for acting “irrationally” — a term long favored by the KMT when describing the DPP — but does not realize that the fear of the unknown that drives this type of behavior is of its own making. Seeing little alternatives to be heard, of course the opposition will politicize visits and movies, and try to “derail” cross-strait talks. What else can they do when the legislature is a one-sided street while the executive acts in an increasingly authoritarian manner, a reality that can only be exacerbated when Ma becomes KMT chairman. People are cornered and they will do whatever they can to be heard.
Another factor behind this tactic is that it serves to reaffirm Taiwan’s values while determining whether remains possible, on Taiwanese soil, to invite whoever we want to invite, or show whichever movie we want whenever we want. Under a fully democratic system, these used to be taken for granted. It seems we can no longer make that assumption.
I encourage readers to read the following article in the Global Times about reactions to the screening of the Kadeer documentary. It’s that bad. Note, for one, that Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) is referred to as “Taiwan ‘Premier,’” and that Xinhua news agency refers to Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) as “Chen Shui-bian the second.” A so-called Chinese expert, meanwhile, claims that “The separatists [sic] in Taiwan are being marginalized, and their political power has been compressed [sic] … They have to collude with the separatists in Xinjiang and Tibet to make their own voices heard.”
Note, too, the transparent attempt by Chinese media to split Taiwan into two bickering entities — Taipei, which like Beijing “criticizes” Chen Chu, and Kaohsiung, in the south, which is filled with “separatists.” The fact is, “Taipei” — that is, the central government — did not criticize the move; only some KMT legislators did (in fact, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin 郝龍斌 has just announced that he welcomed the documentary being shown in Taipei, adding, however, that the city government would not sponsor it). This is an overt attempt to portray Taiwanese “separatists” as isolated and without appeal in northern cities.