Solidarity key to DPP election win
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2018.8.24

When President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) made a stopover in Los Angeles en route to Latin America, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — as usual — organized protests through its underground organizations. The number of protesters ranged from a few dozen to a few hundred, too few to match its status as a “big power.”

US President Donald Trump has protested strongly against Chinese espionage, both verbally and in action. Perhaps this explains why China’s “fifth column” was not active this time, as it keeps hiding and waiting for the right moment to take action.

The fools that protested were probably swiftly added to the FBI’s list.

By contrast, about 1,200 Taiwanese expatriates gave Tsai a warm reception at a welcoming party. Tsai had many interactions with the crowd and said she pinned great hope on them.

I believe these expatriates place far more hope in Tsai leading the nation to normalization and fulfilling the “Taiwan Dream.”

During the nine years my family lived in the US, I had many contacts with Taiwanese expatriates, whose selfless devotion to the nation’s cause moved us deeply. This was the reason I returned: to see what I could do for the nation and help prevent it from falling under Chinese influence following the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) great defeat in the three-in-one elections in December 2005.

Robert Lai (賴義雄), who later became chairman of the Global Taiwan Institute, was one of my closest friends. As chairman of the National Science Council’s National Applied Research Laboratories — which was taken over by the Ministry of Science and Technology — Lai introduced me to a large and distinctive database group, established by Tsai Wu-hsiung (蔡武雄) at the council, to conduct China research.

Due to pressure from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the team was dissolved soon after Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) became president.

Sadly, Lai passed away in May after a stroke and a memorial ceremony was held not long ago. Because his love for Taiwan made him care for the situation in China, we often talked about the two nations during his time in Taiwan.

Even after he returned to the US, we stayed in touch and exchanged e-mails. Every time he visited Taiwan, we met for long talks. Last year, he took us to Yilan just to be able to chat on the way. Unexpectedly, that was the last time I saw him.

During our talks about the nation’s political circumstances, I complained that pan-green political figures are different to expatriates, as they are often overly concerned with their own, their family’s and their faction’s interests.

However, Lai repeatedly reminded me to remain impartial and not to get involved in factional disputes.

The answer, as it turned out, was quite simple: Expatriates are concerned with all of Taiwan, while local politicians are more easily affected by private and partisan concerns.

The ruthless internal strife during the 2008 legislative and presidential elections was regrettable. When I was writing my memoirs for that period, I thought about this again, as the infighting within the pan-green camp seems to have appeared again.

At that time, a political talk show host using the 9pm slot criticized the “11 bandits” — DPP members openly critical of the party, allegedly to gain exposure. It caused quite a lot of trouble for Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), one of the party’s legislative candidates, who was given the derogatory label “the Chinese lute” (中國琴), a play on her name. The show even invited overseas commentators to launch verbal assaults.

The internal struggle eventually cost the DPP the median voters and it was unable to hold even one-quarter of the legislative seats. The party naturally also lost the presidential election, allowing Ma to open the door wide and invite the enemy in for eight years.

Thanks to Tsai stepping up, the DPP returned to power and stopped the economic and political deterioration.

Amid the party’s current power struggle, some people disregard the fact that the Taiwan-centered government is coming under heavy Chinese pressure and go so far as to equate the DPP administration with the KMT and the CCP, or to manipulate opinion poll results.

If the DPP splits and suffers a crushing defeat in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections, the party would not be replaced by any particular faction.

Instead, the KMT would take control of local governments, which could lead to the DPP’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, making it impossible to turn things around as the CCP moves in.

This would be a nightmare scenario not only for people in Taiwan, but also for expatriates. Hopefully, Taiwanese will be able to tell friend from foe and strengthen the nation’s solidarity so as to gradually fulfill our “Taiwan Dream.”

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming

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