Legislation, not protests, is the way to change

By Cao Changqing 曹長青

When speaking about last Saturday's rally, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou said that the government should not stir up trouble, and that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should use law and policy if they didn't want society to descend into chaos.

On the surface, Ma's words seem fair enough, but a closer analysis reveals the flaws.
First, you cannot equate a peaceful rally with stirring up trouble, and if you do, you could level the same accusation at the KMT's own rally a few days ago.

Second, it should be remem-bered that the pan-blues have a majority in the legislature and thus have more control over legislation. Ma says the government should use legal means and policy: With his legislative majority, why doesn't he take a leaf from his own book instead of organizing anti-government rallies and causing trouble?

Third, there were very clear differences in the three recent rallies in Taipei. The rallies organized by the KMT and People First Party (PFP) were aimed directly at a democratically elected president. Sure, the KMT said it was about saving the economy, but in reality it was just one, big anti-Chen Shui-bian march. The PFP was a little more direct, calling for people to "voice their indignation" at Chen.

The DPP rally last Saturday, by comparison, was not aimed at the opposition: It was in protest against the Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan, and Communist China's "Anti-Secession" Law, which seeks to deprive Taiwanese of their right to choose. Neither the KMT nor the PFP has uttered a word against the law since it was passed a year ago. They have also consistently boycotted any public protests against it.

When the chairmen of the two parties went to Beijing last year, the Chinese Communist Party declared that Taiwan was a part of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Again, there was no voice of protest forthcoming from the KMT or the PFP. Given this, one wonders where Ma's heart lies when he equates Taiwanese protestations at Beijing's intimidation with stirring up trouble.
The next point concerns protest rallies organized by the KMT and the PFP over the last few years. Ma considers the KMT to be a democratic party. Why, then, does he not study how opposition parties in Western democracies conduct themselves, and see how two-party politics is done?

The US Democratic Party has serious doubts about the performance of Bush's administration, and opposes many of the White House's policies, especially the toppling of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, since the start of the Iraq war, the streets of Washington have seen no anti-war or anti-Bush rallies organized in the name of the Democratic Party. This is because both the Republican and Democratic parties are equally strong, and if one person can organize a political rally, then anyone can. This would lead to politics being played out on the streets, making it difficult to conduct a constitutional democracy.

If the opposition has issues with the government, they should right these in the legislature: They should seek their own political ideals through constitutional means as civilized people do. Ma made a point of saying that the DPP was good at staging protests, but that was back in the days when Taiwan was a dictatorship and the people didn't have conventional channels through which to express themselves.

Today's Taiwan enjoys freedom of the press, freedom of speech and holds regular elections. If Ma and other leaders choose to stage these rallies at the drop of a hat, they are not only showing a lack of respect for, and confidence in, Taiwan's constitutional democracy, they can also be accused of stirring up trouble.

Cao Changqing is a freelance journalist.

Taipei Times
Saturday, Mar 25, 2006,Page 8


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