End Internal Bickering: Taiwan Must Go Forward
End Internal Bickering: Taiwan Must Go Forward
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 28, 2012
On economic issues, there is no such thing as Blue or Green. On economic issues, whichever party destroys the economy, must bear total responsibility. Internal bickering is not merely inflicting pain upon the ruling party. It is inflicting pain upon everyone. Taiwan needs a way out of its dilemma. First, it must end internal bickering, The first step must be ruling and opposition party dialogue. This is the will of the people. This is their hope for the ruling and opposition parties.
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Former Vice President Vincent Siew recently spoke at an economic summit. He said Taiwan is caught in a vicious cycle. It is spinning its wheels. Industrialists, government officials, and scholars expressed strong agreement. Vincent Siew was hardly being prophetic. The term "internal bickering" has long been a buzzword on Taiwan. Taiwan's competitiveness has been spiraling downward for some time. Unfortunately, ruling and opposition political leaders, who are the ones with the power and resources, persist in endless internal bickering. They long for the chance to rule after the next election. What really concerns us is that by the time the winner of this internal bickering has been decided, Taiwan will be the biggest loser.
Taiwan provides a benchmark for the development of democracy in Chinese society. The essence of democracy is constraints and limitations on power. Inefficiency is the price of democracy. But checks and balances must not run amok. Obstructionism must not prevent consultation and dialogue. Work must get done. Otherwise, checks and balances will undermine economic development and destroy public trust in democratic institutions. The political atmosphere would be permeated with anxiety and dissatisfaction. Ultimately, Taiwan would decline even further.
"Absent internal unity, Taiwan cannot enjoy stability. The ruling and opposition parties must act rationally and work cooperatively. They must end their confrontation. They must allow Taiwan to recover." So said former DPP party chairperson and Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, during her Presidential campaign early this year. But even though she was DPP chairperson for four years and she consistently rejected ruling and opposition party dialogue, she does understood the true meaning of democracy. Protest and opposition may be necessary within a democracy, but they are not its real purpose. The election is over. The DPP has a new chairman. Unfortunately, new chairman Su Tseng-chang shows no signs of opening a window for dialogue. The Legislative Yuan spun its wheels. It adjourned with 385 bills on the agenda. Yet Su Tseng-chang had the cheek to hold a "victory banquet." Ironically, the Democratic Progressive Party festivities highlighted the suffering of the public on Taiwan. This pain will continue. Will anyone be able to endure it?
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng expressed regret that politics has undermined the biotechnology industry. As Speaker of the Legislature, he spearheaded the biotechnology venture capital bill. But Wang must see beyond the biotech industry. Legislative inefficiency has left Taiwan industry stagnant for quite some time. Wang Jin-pyng is the leader of the legislature. Shouldn't he ask himself why the legislature has become the locus of internal bickering on Taiwan?
Taiwan has a society imbued with limitless energy. Taiwan was once responsible for an economic miracle and a quiet revolution. Both were the envy of the world. Now, it is attempting to catch up to its global competitors. Last year, it landed in sixth place. The joy lasted one year. This year, we dropped one place. Taiwan may be democratic and wealthy. But the public's crisis consciousness persists. This is especially true for the private sector. The public has constantly urged the government to accelerate its transformation. But some time ago, such calls became cries in the wilderness that went unheard.
Compare the development of neighboring economies. Hong Kong ranks first in global competitiveness. Singapore ranks fourth. South Korea may rank behind Taiwan in competitiveness. But South Korea is already a member of the "20/50 Club." It is one of only seven developed nations in the world with an annual per capita income exceeding US$20,000, and a population exceeding 50 million. Taiwan was once number one among the Four Asian Tigers. Now, it is number four. Can Taiwan blind itself to reality and persist in internal bickering? Can Taiwan ignore its increasingly vibrant competitors?
Ironically, the conviction that "internal bickering is harmful" is the one thing everyone on Taiwan agrees on. Internal bickering comes in two forms. One. Internal confrontation. Two. Running about blindly. Internal bickering refers to infighting between the ruling and opposition parties. The infighting is laughable. The ruling and opposition parties are bickering over the seven-in-one elections two years from now. Both parties seek victory. Members of both parties also seek victory against fellow party members, over who will be the party's nominees. They are all attempting to preempt each other or elbow each other aside. They are all worrying about matters of no urgency. They are "running about blindly." The public on Taiwan is not thinking about the seven-in-one elections two years from now. To them, which party wins is beside the point. The point is whether the winner will be pragmatic and capable, and serve the people. The same is true of the Presidential election four years from now. People with merit will be selected. People without merit will be eliminated. Unfortunately, the ruling and opposition parties are blind. For them, winning elections is everything. The national interest and the greater good are nothing.
The fate of the nation hinges upon the thoughts and actions of ruling and opposition party leaders. Former SEF chairman and former Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hong Chi-chang recalled the time he and Vincent Siew attended the WTO Ministerial Conference. The two men sat at the same table and talked through the night. Seventeen years later, the Republic of China must reevaluate its national strength, its economic competitiveness, and its strategic status. Is it stronger? Or is it weaker? Hong felt compelled to speak out. "Taiwan needs a rational, responsible, and loyal opposition party. It also needs a ruling party with vision, the capacity to govern, and the ability to create wealth for the people. Only this will enable Taiwan to move forward." Political parties may compete. But Taiwan's future requires the two parties to join hands and solve problems.
Ruling vs opposition party rivalry led to the wholesale re-election of the legislature and to direct Presidential elections. It led to a change in ruling parties -- a high point. Dialogue between the leaders of rival political parties is not that difficult. This is especially true on economic issues. On economic issues, there is no such thing as Blue or Green. On economic issues, whichever party destroys the economy, must bear total responsibility. Internal bickering is not merely inflicting pain upon the ruling party. It is inflicting pain upon everyone. Taiwan needs a way out of its dilemma. First, it must end internal bickering. The first step must be ruling and opposition party dialogue. This is the will of the people. This is their hope for the ruling and opposition parties.
(Courtesy of China Times)