Taiwan's Most Unprincipled Government Ever Owes the Public an Apology
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 30, 2016
Executive Summary: Does the DPP intend to copy past KMT behavior verbatim? Does it intend to take a position and defend it to the bitter end? Does it intend to adopt the very same policies it denounced yesterday and praise them to the skies? Does it intend to be as uncommunicative as the KMT government used to be? Taiwan is being ripped apart. The DPP needs to think about whether to apologize to the Taiwan public. But even more than that, it needs to think about the coming public backlash.
Full Text Below:
Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Chou-yan attended the WHA annual meeting in Geneva on behalf of the DPP government. When he addressed the organization, he repeatedly referred to "Chinese Taipei". Not once did he use the term “Taiwan”. This provoked considerable controversy. Yet President Tsai gushed. She said “Every obstacle was difficult, yet every obstacle was overcome”. The Taiwan United Nations Alliance WHO Information Group declared the result "unsatisfactory but acceptable". Now think back to the 2009 WHA annual conference. The Kuomintang government had just straightened out the mess in cross-Strait relations. For the first time ever, it used the term "Chinese Taipei". It did so in order to qualify for observer status. Then director Yeh Chin-chuan headed the delegation. He had yet to leave the country when the DPP legislative caucus held a press conference, and blasted Yeh Chin-chuan for "selling out Taiwan". Legislator Ye Yi-chun accused Yeh Chin-chuan of "surrendering our sovereignty". Legislator Chai Trong-rong alleged that "Chinese Taipei" simply means "China's Taipei".
It was bad enough that the DPP engaged in name-calling at home. Overseas students went to the meeting venue, surrounded Yeh Chin-chuan, and screamed at him. They even provoked incidents at dinners hosted by diplomatic allies. One female student confronted Yeh Chin-chuan and screamed “Why are you using the term Chinese Taipei?”, “Why are you selling out Taiwan?”, and even more shrilly, she demanded to know "Under what name is Taiwan participating in the WHO?”. She then said, “Yeh Chin-chuan, you are shameless! Don't bother coming back to Taiwan!" In short, the circumstances were the same. The only difference was when Yeh Chin-chuan went, he was accused of "selling out Taiwan". Whereas when Lin Chou-yan went, he was praised as a hero, and commended for "overcoming all obstacles". Yesterday Yeh Chin-chuan. Today Ye Chou-yan. Both represented Taiwan. Both increased Taiwan's international space. But Yeh Chin-chuan was branded a "traitor to Taiwan", while Ye Chou-yan was welcomed back as a conquering hero. If these are not double standards, then pray tell what constitutes a double standard?
In response to blue camp complaints about double standards, Taiwan United Nations Alliance WHO Information Group spokesman Shen Chi-lin offered a truly surreal excuse. Shen said "The DPP and some people on Taiwan perceive your party (KMT), or past governments under your party, as selling out Taiwan. Your party has a certain public image. That is not something that can be explained by an isolated event or an isolated analogy”. In short, if the DPP does it, it's okay. If the KMT does it, it's not. In 2009 the Kuomintang had been in office less than a year. According to the DPP's logic, that year's new mandate was “not really a mandate”.
This sort of “wrong yesterday, but right today” phenomenon has provoked the blue camp to argue that “The DPP owes the KMT an apology!” But frankly, most people think it good that the DPP government has adopted a pragmatic attitude in order to participate in the WHA. They consider such an attitude beneficial to exchanges between Taiwan and the international community. They think it enables Taiwan to better obtain international health information. They consider Taiwan contributing to the international community a good thing. They think consider reluctantly accepting the "Chinese Taipei" name beneficial to cross-Strait peace. They think at least it offers a good beginning for CCP-DPP trust. We wonder why the KMT is demanding an apology?
We consider the KMT demand for an apology pointless. But the DPP really should consider apologizing to the public. The DPP has been in office a mere 10 days. Yet it has reversed itself repeatedly. It has revealed its political double standards. It really should apologize to the Taiwan public. Years ago the green camp surrounded Yeh Chin-chuan and accused him of “selling out Taiwan”, causing enormous turmoil. Yeh Chin-chuan also found “Every obstacle difficult, yet overcame every obstacle”. Forget the allegations that Yeh Chin-chuan "sold out Taiwan". What were the social costs of these allegations for Taiwan? Back then the government increased our participation in international organizations. For that it was skinned alive. Today, the green camp has accepted the same nomenclature and the same agenda -- lock, stock, and barrel. Lin Chou-yan was not even treated as well as Yeh Chin-chuan. Yet Lin Chuan-chou is being praised by everone up and down the ranks of the green camp as a hero. Taiwan society pays no small price for these confrontations and divisions. Never mind an apology. The DPP has yet to express even “regret”.
The DPP's “wrong yesterday, but right today” phenomenon is not confined to this. The newly formed Lin Chou-yan cabinet is billing itself as a "humble cabinet", and boasting that it is "the most communicative government ever". Meanwhile, it is canceling toll free national highway travel during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is collecting tolls on East-West national highways. It is halting the mining of granite in Taroko Gorge. Its long list of high handed measures has shown the public that the new government is neither humble nor communicative. Even many green camp legislators are appalled. They are demanding that the new government communicate with the legislature before introducing new policies. Green camp local leaders are even more incensed. They eventually forced the Ministry of Transportation to reverse its policy of collecting tolls on East West national highways. These complete reversals of policies, like the acceptance of the "Chinese Taipei" name, leave an indelible impression. When the KMT attempted to communicate in the past, all it got in return was condemnation and humiliation. Today, the DPP does not even bother to communicate with anyone. It simply imposes its policies from the top down, without any consultation whatsoever.
Does the DPP intend to copy past KMT behavior verbatim? Does it intend to take a position and defend it to the bitter end? Does it intend to adopt the very same policies it denounced yesterday and praise them to the skies? Does it intend to be as uncommunicative as the KMT government used to be? Taiwan is being ripped apart. The DPP needs to think about whether to apologize to the Taiwan public. But even more than that, it needs to think about the coming public backlash.