The Year of the Legislature Slumber Party
The Year of the Legislature Slumber Party
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 14, 2012
History will of course remember them. It will remember this group of legislators who held a slumber party in the legislature. One day when we recall what Taiwan was like in 2012, we will remember the buffoons who wrote this ludicrous chapter in Taiwan's political history. They and the dais, so critical to Taiwan's fate, will be written into the history of Taiwan's democracy.
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Over the past several days, Taiwan has been windy, cold, and wet. Disaster relief and reconstruction efforts have stretched available manpower to the breaking point. At such a critical moment, another group of war-weary soldiers wishes it could rest but cannot. These soldiers are not busy with disaster relief. They are DPP legislators. Over the past several days, these brave souls have been modern counterparts of the Eight Hundred Heroes who defended the Shihang Warehouse during the Battle of Shanghai. Their nerves are stretched to the breaking point as well. As they gaze up the dais, they endure sleepless nights as well. Meanwhile, the KMT legislative caucus has implemented its "centrifugal deployment" tactic. KMT legislators are the modern counterparts of Allied forces during WWII, attempting to seize a beachhead in Normandy. Their goal? The very same dais.
This magic dais sits in the Legislative Yuan. Can U.S. beef be imported? Can the government levy a capital gains tax? Who will be appointed to the NCC? All manner of questions affecting the people's livelihood, tax justice, and media freedom will be decided on this dais.
This week is the last week in the current Legislative Yuan session. Over 300 bills need review. Yet legislators have adopted a "don't worry, be happy" outlook, as if their sole responsibility is to engage in a Blue vs. Green battle of wits. Some provisions of the draft amendment for the Food Safety Act pertain to U.S. beef imports. This has led to a major showdown between the ruling KMT and opposition DPP. The DPP legislative caucus has occupied the dais in the Legislative Yuan. Some DPP legislators even brought sleeping bags. They intend to stay the night. They intend to make it impossible for the Legislative Yuan to debate and review bills. KMT legislators have repeatedly threatened to reclaim the dais. They want to allow the legislature to function normally. Collectively, these legislators are several thousand years old. Yet they are indifferent to the NT$200 million dollars in agricultural damage caused by the June 12 floods. They are indifferent to the thousands of people evacuated, to the thousands of households flooded, to the thousands of vehicles snarled in traffic. They are indifferent to an entire range of real problems. These legislators seem to treat the legislature as their own little Arcadia. Blue and Green legislators surround the podium. They seem not to know that it has been raining, let alone realize the need for disaster relief.
All Taiwan was reeling from the floods. Yet these legislators conducted themselves in such an infantile, vapid manner. No wonder they felt guilty about what they were doing. Legislators are accustomed to a life of leisure. They could not even endure five days in a sleeping bag. DPP legislators asked that the entire legislature be cleared. They wanted to show that they too wanted to call a truce. DPP legislators wanted to play hero. But they also wanted to hang back from the front lines. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too. But there is no such thing as a free lunch. The KMT, meanwhile, wanted a cakewalk. But it was unwilling or unable to do what it needed to do. It failed to take the bridgehead. As a result, all it could do is feel sorry for itself.
During the Presidential campaign, former DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen's persimmon propaganda campaign angered voters. She invoked the parable of The Judgment of Solomon. She boasted that she was "the real mother." What she meant was that although she felt aggrieved, she nevertheless had the larger interests of the people at heart. She said that was why she was willing to let the matter slide. No matter whether Tsai Ing-wen's self-serving rhetoric was proper. But the incident and the parable are things the Blue and Green parties should think about. The two parties each insist they are upholding the interests of the public. But what really constitutes upholding the interests of the public? Who really has the right to boast that he or she is "the real mother," seeking justice before King Solomon?
Over the past several days, the public has watched bedraggled DPP legislators desperately searching for any excuse to end their "occupy movement" without losing face. But even if they make it through these last five days, what of it? Does that mean the government will no longer have to confront the U.S. beef imports issue? The TIFA issue? Politicians are so obdurate and short-sighted. How can they earn the people's trust? How can they assume weighty responsibilities?
Over the past several days, the public has witnessed the KMT's impotence. KMT legislators flapped their mouths. They solemnly swore they would retake the dais. Instead, their members kept vanishing and their numbers kept dwindling. If the KMT really wanted the Legislative Yuan to resume normal operations, it would have assigned at least as many members to do battle with the DPP. The KMT is so halfhearted in defending its ideals. How can politicians like this persuade the public they are willing to fight on their behalf?
If Taiwan were a business organization, the Legislative Yuan would be one of its BUs (business units), but one so inefficient and lacking in dedication, it would have been dissolved long ago. What company would tolerate a business unit so lethargic and irresponsible? In normal times, legislators never burn incense at the temple. But in times of need, they suddenly become "deathbed converts." And slapdash ones at that. If Taiwan were a family, the Legislative Yuan would be a family member, but one so unruly and unwilling to learn, the parents would have given them a whipping and disowned them long ago. What family would tolerate a black sheep who never shapes up?
All Taiwan was being battered by floods. Yet Blue and Green legislators found time to engage in "king of the mountain" games on the legislature dais. It doesn't getting any darker than this. Have they concluded they can get away with anything? That nobody can do anything about them? Voters who waded through waist deep flood waters, voters who were evacuated in panic, remember the names of your legislators. Remember where they were the day of the flood. They sat in air-conditioned comfort, spouting smarmy nonsense.
History will of course remember them. It will remember this group of legislators who held a slumber party in the legislature. One day, when we recall what Taiwan was like in 2012, we will remember the buffoons who wrote this ludicrous chapter in Taiwan's political history. They and the dais, so critical to Taiwan's fate, will be written into the history of Taiwan's democracy.
(Courtesy of China Times)