Greens unite, protect and besiege

By Paul Lin 林保華

Sunday, Oct 25, 2009, Page 8

The battle is on for the year-end mayoral, county commissioner and city and county councilor elections. The government’s plan to upgrade several cities and counties to special municipality status may have brought a certain level of disorder to the electoral process, thereby highlighting the importance of the year-end elections.

Only by preparing well for the year-end election campaign will it be possible to pave the way for next year’s special municipality elections. Just as in the recent Yunlin legislative by-election, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the green camp must unite to achieve the results they want.

The DPP has made this year’s election campaign slogan “Green rule is the best quality assurance.” While it may be an old slogan and although the DPP underperformed in some ways during its eight years in power, a comparison with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reveals that the slogan embodies several of the party’s past strong points.

I believe the DPP should amend that slogan by adding “Protect local areas and besiege the central government.” More directly, “protecting local areas” means retaining local government control. There are lots of other things we need to protect — like water, soil and other environmental resources as people have learned following the Typhoon Morakot disaster. The residents of Penghu (澎湖) set a good example for the rest of us by opposing the opening of casinos there.

This protection should of course also include the economy. Many rural areas rely on agriculture, which is often associated with being backward. This is one of the negative effects of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) view that they would only be brief guests in Taiwan.

They overdeveloped certain areas while ignoring others, which increased the gap between urban and rural areas.

However, agriculture still needs to be emphasized, for it is counties like Yunlin that are based on agriculture that have experienced the biggest increases in the cost of living, exemplified by price increases after Morakot. Furthermore, the cost of basic living items is not rising in Taiwan; but the government is arbitrarily raising taxes to benefit big businesses and certain cities. This could set off a new wave of inflation and public suffering.

In addition, we must find new methods to protect Taiwan’s small and medium enterprises to prevent the lifeblood of Taiwan’s economy from being washed away by China once the KMT throws the doors wide open to Chinese businesses.

“Protecting local areas” also involves protecting local culture. Without Taiwan’s languages, music, opera and movies, Taiwan would be a spiritual void. The vitality of songs in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) has given birth to a group of excellent musicians such as Ye Chun-lin (葉俊麟) and Tyzen Hsiao (蕭泰然). What does China’s Fujian province have to offer? Many local governments in Taiwan still preserve buildings reflecting Taiwanese history. Tainan excels in this respect. However, in a pan-blue controlled area like Miaoli, people are willing to spend huge sums to build a Ma museum while they don’t think twice about knocking down the chimney of a kiln tied to the long history of Taiwanese pottery.

If we are unable to retain control of local governments, we will be unable to protect Taiwan. If we can retain local government control, we will be able to come up with solutions to trip Ma up even if his administration submits to China. In addition, we need to tap into the energy in local areas to support the special municipality elections next year as well as future legislative and presidential elections. We must regain government power lest Taiwan remain a temporary dwelling for a few highly privileged Mainlander “agents” who are “helping” China look after this place for the time being.

By “besieging the central government” I mean forming a resistance that will stop Taiwan from being handed over to China on a silver platter and keep Taiwanese free of enslavement by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Rule with the threat of violence is not peace. And removing the missiles the CCP has aimed at Taiwan does not constitute peace either because those missiles can be replaced any time China wants.

When Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visited Taiwan last year, Taiwanese showed their strength by protesting and surrounding Chen and his entourage and by distracting members of the KMT-CCP forum from collaborating to sell out Taiwan. This time around, they don’t dare hold the meeting in Taipei, Kaohsiung or Tainan. Instead, they have chosen a place under pan-blue rule — Taichung. We must not allow the communists a chance to gain a foothold in Taiwan. This is the only way we can protect Taiwan’s national security and guarantee the rights of our people.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

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