The Beginning of the End, Part VI
The DPP commits Political Suicide
January 24, 2006
“I will not change the country’s national title during my term in office… the situation does not permit us to change the name of the country at the moment, or even during the rest of my term… Lee Teng-hui couldn’t do it during his 12 year term, and I can’t do it in mine. Taiwan independence is self-delusion. Taiwan independence is a myth.”
— “President” Chen Shui-bian, February 2005
The December 3, 2005 three-in-one County and Municipal Elections were a Pan Green debacle. Even Pan Green spin-controllers don’t deny it. More than a debacle, they were a wake-up call. They were a warning to the Taiwan independence leadership to open their eyes and smell the coffee. They were a last chance for “President” Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party to see the light before voters give up on them forever. If Chen and the DPP refuse to reflect on their mistakes, and continue on their economically suicidal march toward Taiwan independence, the DPP will be finished as a political force.
Leaders of the DPP’s New Tide Faction have traditionally been the leading edge theoreticians, the “deep thinkers” of the party. Several New Tide Faction leaders have warned their comrades that unless the DPP radically reinvents itself in short order, support for the party will plummet to historic lows in upcoming elections. The DPP will then be done for, the way most eastern European Communist parties were done for during the final years of the Cold War.
So how have Chen and the DPP reacted to the December debacle?
Chen Shui-bian, in an effort to avoid blame for the catastrophic defeat, went into hiding for nine straight days, during which he was neither seen nor heard. On the tenth day, he showed his face at an ROC naval base, but pointedly avoided mentioning the election. In fact, Chen remained tight-lipped for the rest of December.
During Chen’s silence, pundits speculated about what was going on in Chen’s mind.
Political naifs assured the public that Chen was engaged in “bi men si guo” (contemplation of mistakes behind closed doors) and “xu xin jian tao” (humble self-reflection). They assured the public that Chen had internalized the painful lesson of the election, and would soon order an about face to his administration’s suicidal march toward Taiwan independence.
Political veterans begged to differ. They reminded the public that Chen’s concern has never been the future of 23 million Chinese on Taiwan, or even the future of Chen’s own Democratic Progressive Party. Chen’s sole concern has always been the Care and Feeding of Number One Himself. Chen, political veterans insisted, was busy devising schemes to prevent himself from becoming a “po ya” (lame duck) during his illegitimate second term, and to retain power even after the expiration of the constitutionally mandated eight-year, two-term limit in 2008. Since Chen was a scoundrel whose first and last refuge was ersatz “Taiwanese” patriotism, Chen would consolidate support for his corrupt, discredited regime by pandering to the minority of hard core Taiwan independence fundamentalists within the Pan Green camp.
Sure enough, on New Years Day, 2006, Chen Shui-bian broke his month-long silence and proved the political veterans right.
According to a January 2, 2006 Taipei Times article entitled, “Chen to tighten cross-strait policies” NEW YEAR MESSAGE:
The president focused on the military threat posed by [mainland] China … as he announced changes to cross-strait policy. In his New Year’s address yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian said that he would not bow to pressure from the opposition parties and [mainland] China to relax his cross-strait policies, in a surprisingly strong speech that defied the expectations of pundits. Chen reminded the public of [mainland] China’s strong ambition to annex [sic] Taiwan, and said that his administration’s new mindset and course of action for future cross-strait economic and trade policies would adopt “active management, effective opening,” rather than the “active opening, effective management” that has been in place since 2001 … Chen’s clear signal that he would tighten cross-strait policies was at the heart of his message … Chen said that no matter how cross-strait relations develop, Taiwan will adhere to [its] sovereignty … With regard to Taiwan’s future, no leeway will be given for … choices that [preclude] … or in any way [contravene this principle].
Financial and political analysts from more enlightened parts of the world were flabbergasted. They expected Chen to respect the clearly expressed desire of the people on Taiwan for reconciliation in the short term, and reunification in the long term. They expected Chen to loosen, not tighten cross Straits policies. They were bewildered by Chen’s authoritarian behavior, so utterly at odds with the behavior of any enlightened leader in any modern nation.
They shouldn’t have been.
Had they had stared unflinchingly into the dark heart of Taiwan’s “lively/thriving/vibrant democracy,” instead of viewing it through the Taiwan Lobby’s rose-colored glasses, they would have seen that Taiwan is a not a “democracy,” but a racist, cronyist dictatorship lorded over by a Ferdinand Marcos/Mohammed Suharto-style Asian strongman. They would have realized that Chen Shui-bian is actually less responsive to the will of the people on Taiwan than PRC General Secretary Hu Jintao is to the will of the people on the Chinese mainland. They would have known that on December 1, 2005, two days before the election, Chen Shui-bian openly threatened ROC voters, warning them that if they failed to deliver his party a victory at the polls, he would punish them by tightening, not relaxing cross Straits policies.
Am I making this up? How could I? Millions of television viewers on Taiwan who saw and heard Chen’s speech on television can confirm the veracity of what I said. Skeptics need only consult archival video footage of Chen’s exclusive interview with Taiwan’s ETTV cable channel network.
Chen cares nothing about the Republic of China, the nation he ostensibly leads, but whose citizens’ hard-earned wealth he has diverted into his own pockets and the pockets of his cronies. Chen cares little more about the DPP, the party he ostensibly leads, but whose long-term political fortune he has sacrificed for his short-term political survival. Chen cares for nothing and nobody, except his immediate family and a handful of cronies. And as fellow Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit graft scandal co-conspirator Chen Che-nan recently discovered, even Chen Shui-bian’s cronies had better watch their backs.
Six years ago, in 2000, Taiwan independence fundamentalists supported Chen unconditionally. They idolized him. He was their beloved Man of the People. He was their affectionately-named “A-Bian.”
Six years later, in 2006, opinion polls show public approval for Chen at a low of 5%. [ ! ] You read that right. Approval ratings in the single-digits. Contrast this with Richard Nixon, whose approval rating in August 1974, on the eve of his resignation due to the Watergate scandal, bottomed out at 24%.
For public approval of a sitting Pan Green “president” to fall below double-digits into the single-digit range requires not just Pan Blue opposition, but total Pan Green disillusionment. Don’t take my word for it. Come visit Taipei. At Chiang Kai-shek Airport grab a taxicab, any taxicab, even one belonging to the All People’s Taxi Company, whose drivers were once uncritical A-Bian boosters. Ask the cabbie if he still believes that his former political idol gives a damn about working stiffs such as himself, then brace yourself for the stream of invective to follow.
In order to save their political party, the DPP party hierarchy must demonstrate “the vision thing.” They must jettison the corrupt, opportunistic Chen, who has run the party’s image into the ground. They must forksake Chen’s discredited Taiwan independence agenda, which has bankrupted the island’s economy. They must embrace former DPP chairman Hsu Hsing-liang’s “Da Dan Xi Jing” (Bold Advance Westward), the “West” in this case meaning the Chinese mainland.
As the quote from Chen Shui-bian at the beginning of this article suggests, the DPP party hierarchy knows what it must do, not only to save their political party, but also to save Taiwan.
What has the DPP party hierarchy done?
The overwhelming majority of the DPP’s party hierarchy defaulted on the solemn responsibility of challenging Chen’s defiant, drunk with power “Yuan Dan Wen Gao” (New Years Address). Lacking the courage to “Speak Truth to Power,” they have chosen their own short-term political survival over their party’s long-term political fortune. In doing so, they have all but sealed the fate of both the DPP and the Taiwan independence movement. The DPP has committed political suicide.