United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 13, 2016
Executive Summary: Through the abuse of mass movements, the abuse of executive power, and violations of the rule of law, the DPP has cast a shadow over Taiwan's democracy. Ironically, mass movements, executive discretion, and majority rule were originally norms within a democracy. But the DPP has used all three in its effort to “use democracy to bury democracy". Unless the DPP pulls back from the precipice, Taiwan's democracy will be reduced to populism, and authoritarian will soon rear its ugly head.
Full Text Below:
After three changes in ruling parties, the Republic of China is now regarded as a model for the transformation of an authoritarian state into a democratic state. Unfortunately this third change in ruling parties, which has allowed the DPP to enjoy “total government”, has not consolidated democracy. Instead it has facilitated a reaction against democracy. It has enabled the DPP to “use democracy to bury democracy”.
This so-called "using democracy to bury democracy" uses democratic procedures to take a nation back down the road toward authoritarianism. The overthrow of the Weimar Republic in Germany offers a clear reminder of how nations may fall. First, consider how the DPP abused mass movements. The DPP has long resorted to taking to the streets. The mass movements it led have never abjured violence. The first time it assumed power it had an opportunity to change the constitution. But once it lost power, it reverted to its old ways. During the eight year long Ma era, mass movements escalated. They became the means by which the DPP engineered its return to power. They also undermined democracy and the rule of law.
For example, in 2008, Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, paid a visit to Taiwan. The DPP led a series of protests that ended in bloodshed. Back then DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen embraced violence, claiming that "[the Ma government] forced people to take to the streets. That was the greatest violence". During the latter half of the Ma era, the DPP and DPP affiliated pressure groups led an endless series of "Occupy" movements. Once the DPP came to power, these illegal activities became immune from prosecution. The DPP even expressed approval of these movements, even though they trampled over the rule of law. Recently, while protesting the Labor Law Amendment Act, labor groups assaulted DPP Chief Convener Ko Chien-min. The Presidential Office and the DPP led Legislative Yuan unanimously condemned the violence. But the public was unmoved. The reason was simple. Everyone knew that the DPP has long been the chief instigator of street protests and illegal acts of violence.
Consider the matter from another level. Now that it is the ruling party, the DPP is free to abuse state authority. When the US government fined Mega Bank for money laundering, the DPP used the incident as a pretext to accuse the KMT of money laundering. Investigations have discovered that former Mega Bank board chairman Tsai Yu-tsai did indeed violate the law. But his violations had no connection whatsoever with alleged “KMT money laundering".
Consider another matter. TransAsia Airways is exiting the airline industry. The Tsai government wanted to show how efficiently it could handle the matter. It announced that "The Ministry of Justice will freeze the TransAsia Airways trust fund". But how can an executive branch entity freeze funds? It then announced that "China Airlines will take over all of TransAsia Airway's air routes". But how can executive an branch entity take over international and cross-Strait air routes? These two cases are clear evidence that the executive branch has abused its authority for political purposes, and undermined the principle of "governing in accordance with the rule of law".
But the DPP's worst abuse of democracy is its direct enacting of laws contrary to democratic principles, in order to crack down on political opponents and consolidate its power. The DPP has repeated such practices again and again since seizing “total government” power. For example, the passage of the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations trampled over existing laws and even the Constitution. It not only presumed guilt, it even imposed ex post facto law extending back seven decades. It made itself judge, jury, and executioner. It combined the executive and judicial functions into one, allowing the CIPAS chairman to run amoke, even while claiming that he was “implementing transitional justice".
Under the same slogan, the Transitional Justice Ordinance, even more wide-reaching and limitless, is gaining momentum. Once the law is passed, an even larger, even less constrained "Transitional Justice Commitee" will investigate all cases of what it considers to be "unjust". The targets will not be limited to political parties. They will include any individuals or groups with the same history or background. Those targeted may be subjected to brutal Red Guard style inquisitions, then judged guilty without trial. Even if they are acquitted, the process will defame them in the court of public opinion.
In addition to transitional justice legislation, there is "loyalty legislation". DPP legislators are accusing retired generals of disloyalty by forming a United Front with the Mainland. They are demanding the revision of the Cross-Strait Relations Ordinance. They would forbid retired generals from visiting the Mainland for life. The would even make prosecution retroactive. In cases where "national loyalty" is difficult to define, the result would be political inquisitions, and anything the targeted individual did over the past 20 years would be dug up and used against him. The passage of this law will mark the beginning of another white terror.
Through the abuse of mass movements, the abuse of executive power, and violations of the rule of law, the DPP has cast a shadow over Taiwan's democracy. Ironically, mass movements, executive discretion, and majority rule were originally norms within a democracy. But the DPP has used all three in its effort to “use democracy to bury democracy". Unless the DPP pulls back from the precipice, Taiwan's democracy will be reduced to populism, and authoritarian will soon rear its ugly head.