Tsai's 'referendum war' misguided
By Joe Hung, special to The China PostMany people say the Republic of China (R.O.C.) is Asia's first republic, but they are wrong. The R.O.C. is the first continuing Asian republic just like China which claims it is the world's oldest continuing civilization, though not the oldest one in the world. These people forget about the first republic of Asia which existed for only 12 days. That nation was the Republic of Taiwan, which fought a brief war of independence against the Japanese occupation army and lost in 1895, almost 16 years before Dr. Sun Yat-sen proclaimed the formation of the R.O.C. in Nanjing on Jan. 1, 1912, whose centennial Taiwan is continuing to celebrate until the end of this year.
October 31, 2011, 11:30 am TWN
The R.O.C. would have become history if Kim Il Sung hadn't unleashed his North Korean army to invade South Korea across the 38th Parallel in 1950. Chiang Kai-shek of the Kuomintang lost the long Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party, and came to Taiwan to continue the R.O.C. that is a thriving democracy under threat of an invasion from the People's Republic of China, because the civil war, inasmuch as Beijing is concerned, hasn't ended and has been technically left unfinished.
This is similar to the case of the Korean War that saved the R.O.C. A U.N. peacekeeping force still stays at Panmunjong right on the 38th Parallel, for the simple reason that no peace accord has been signed to end the internecine war.
Now that he has readied himself for a second term, President Ma Ying-jeou is talking about a similar peace accord between the R.O.C. and the PRC to end the long war that has outlived both Chiang and Mao. On Oct. 17, Ma broached on a vision raising the possibility of concluding the pact in ten years on conditions that it is considered necessary, supported by the people, and subjected to legislative supervision.
Tsai Ing-wen, the standard bearer of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, didn't like his proposal idea, firing a broadside at the president who she declared couldn't be trusted with the job of making peace across the Taiwan Strait. Under fire, Ma proposed referendums to get peace negotiations started. Tsai rose to the occasion to propose a meeting with Ma to talk about how to amend the Referendum Act, which the opposition party believes has set an extremely high threshold to get a referendum validated. As the law requires no less than half of the eligible voters to take part in a referendum to validate it, all six referendums held alongside the presidential elections of 2004 and 2008 were declared invalid simply because more than half of the electorate didn't vote. With the proposal turned down, Tsai had an amendment to the act proposed at the Legislative Yuan, where the Kuomintang — which controls a two-thirds majority — nipped the proposal in the bud. A referendum war began.
Everyone in Taiwan wants peace. Like the Kuomintang, the opposition party wants peace across the Strait. But Tsai and company want a peace accord signed between the two independent, sovereign states of the R.O.C., or the republic of Taiwan if possible, and the PRC. Ma's opponents are convinced that he isn't up to the job of concluding the pact they want because he is a son of a Chinese mainlander Kuomintang apparatchik born in Hong Kong and is, at least they believe, more likely than not to sell out Taiwan to the PRC for Chinese unification.