Friday, January 13, 2012

Politicizing electoral monitors

Through no fault of theirs, international observers arrive here facing a credibility handicap, victims of a political system whose impartiality is oftentimes observed in the breach

It is always encouraging to see members of the international community pay attention to Taiwan, whose travails as it navigates the rough seas of its relations with China are often conveniently ignored for the sake of “larger” considerations.

Given the potential ramifications of tomorrow’s presidential elections for regional security and Taipei’s relations with Beijing, it is unsurprising that an army of foreign reporters and academics would be parachuted into Taiwan to observe its rambunctious democracy at work.

Equally welcome is the arrival of international observers who have been invited by local organizations to monitor the elections to ensure that the process is fair and does justice to the sacrifices made by previous generations of Taiwanese who, for decades, did not have the privilege of selecting their leader.

In a highly charged campaign marked by scandals — from the possible falsification of evidence used in allegations against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to claims that intelligence agencies engaged in illegal surveillance against her — the presence of neutral electoral monitors from abroad could provide a much-needed dose of sobriety to the whole affair. Or it should have.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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