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[Opinion] Taiwan’s President

Posted September. 28, 2006 03:26,   


Being called “the Son of Taiwan” and having succeeded in changing the administration for the first time in Taiwanese history, prime minister Chen Shui-bien is faced with strong calls for resignation in six years. The demonstrations led by the “Anti-Corruption Movement of One Million People” were filled with people sporting red shirts symbolizing dissent for Chen. The cars honking in approval resemble our demonstrations for democracy in 1987. The person leading the demonstrations is Shih Ming-teh, former head of the Democratic Progressive Party who once led demonstration movements with Chen.

The tame Taiwanese were driven to the streets because of scandals concerning Chen’s relatives. Chen’s son-in-law Chao Chien-ming was indicted on charges of earning large sums of illegal profit through insider trading. First Lady Wu Shu-chen, who earned sympathy votes after becoming handicapped through political terror in the opposition party years, was charged with accepting bribes of mall certificates. She also enjoyed adorning herself with jewelry and expensive products, earning the reputation of “Taiwan’s Imelda,” and meddled frequently with government personnel appointments.

Naturally, government affairs are not conducted smoothly. In August, the Minister of Transportation submitted his resignation by fax and went on vacation, and recently the mayor also joined the demonstrations. The second largest opposition party already announced that “Chen lost his power to conduct national affairs,” and submitted a charge of impeachment to the legislative branch. This is the third time. His economic policy is not working either. The Taiwanese economy, which was once dubbed one of the four dragons of Asia, is suffering from lack of investment and fewer job opportunities.

Noting the urgent situation, Chen gave a press conference and explained the situation of charges against his relatives, but only garnered the anger of the people. During the conference he used Taiwanese (the language of Southern Fujian Province) instead of Mandarin. This was intended to send an SOS to his supporters on the Taiwanese island, but split the citizens for his personal benefit. To appeal to the Taiwanese nationalism, he also reintroduced the Taiwan independence card. Born as a farmer’s son and becoming a human rights lawyer, he succeeded in becoming a prime minister by his challenge against the existing administration. But such political tactics never works forever. The same holds true beyond borders.

Chung Sung-hee, Editorial Writer, shchung@donga.com