LOYAL READER COMMENTARY ON BI-KHIM/DPP LETTER in last night's Report....Asia expert and SAIS scholar Dave Brown offers some helpful perspective, followed by a note from the hard-working team at TECRO here in DC:
Thanks for sharing Bi-Khim's open letter. She deserves respect, but this piece is a partisan statement of DPP views on the current crisis in the LY [MT -- to which Brown replies with a partisan statement of KMT views]. That's her job, of course. [MT -- Hsiao is a politician. What is Brown's job as a SAIS scholar?]
You and others will note that it omits much of the story concerning the STA, which the DPP has opposed from its signing last June. She conveniently omits the DPP's record of obstruction of LY consideration of the agreement.[MT -- just as Brown conveniently omits the KMT's similar record]. That began in the special LY session last fall and continued with dilatory handling of forums on the agreement.
The week before March 17, the DPP had repeatedly prevented the planned article by article review of the STA at the LY committee level. That obstructionism was the proximate incentive for the KMT to ram through a decision moving the STA from committee to plenary consideration on Mar. 18. [MT -- both parties were engaged in it but it was very obviously the KMT that was blocking the process, as Cole notes. For example, here and here. As the pro-KMT China Post notes, it was the KMT that blocked the podium on Mar 13. Recall that the KMT does not want a floor vote, because their legislators don't want to be seen voting for this dog. They want it to become law administratively. Thus DPP obstructionism was not the "proximate incentive" but merely a KMT excuse. And another error here -- the pact was sent for plenary review on the 17th, not the 18th. Brown has the chronology all wrong.]
It is remarkable that the students reacted so quickly that same evening to occupy the LY. [MT -- this is unconscionable. The Interior committee "closed" the review on March 17 (China Post report) and the protesters occupied the legislature on the evening of the 18th. How is over 24 hours "quickly?" They were not even the same day as Brown claims!]. The KMT has accused the DPP of instigating this action, an accusation that many believe [MT -- and those believers are KMTers]. Unnamed DPP politicians were reportedly on the scene later that evening [MT -- yes, they and TSU legislators were there to protect the students from the police. They were hardly unnamed as they were in their party clothing and easily recognizable -- they were on TV and in thousands of videos and stills!]; and the party endorsed the action the following day, and then encouraged all its members to support the students' illegal occupation.[MT -- of course. When people support your values, you should support them. Hint, hint.].
A DPP poll published a few days earlier had indicated that a plurality of DPP members (40%) were dissatisfied with the party's knee-jerky opposition to every step forward in cross-strait relations [MT -- poll is here]. So rather than have the DPP LY caucus responsible for continuing to block consideration of the STA [MT -- the KMT caucus was blocking too], wasn't it in the DPP's interest to have students play that role? [MT -- yes. Perhaps Brown should ask why the protests have majority support and why so many students, including many of my own, were willing to come out. Not to mention that 70% of the public supports a line by line review, the review the KMT was trying to stop. And as polls show, that dog of a pact only has 20% support now.].
Bi-Khim portrays this as a struggle for democracy. It's really another fundamental clash of approaches toward the mainland and toward Taiwan's future [MT -- Ummm... hello! What is that but a struggle about the future of Taiwan's democracy!]. But if its about democracy, is the DPP's repeated physical blocking of LY action democratic? [MT -- is the KMT's? Obviously, the DPP's tactics are in the realm of normal tactics practiced by both parties in Taiwan's democracy. Obviously cutting off the review before it occurred was not.]
The DPP's problem is that the KMT, divided as it is, has a LY majority, and the DPP will go to whatever lengths are necessary to block the majority when their key interests are involved or when it suits the DPP's election mobilization goals to exploit issues for political advantage. [MT -- Brown is obviously trying hard to gin up a DPP conspiracy here. Can we have some actual evidence, please? O wait... Brown doesn't have any.]
I suspect that the fall election is a key consideration in how the party is handling the issue. In this country we would not permit such obstruction to occur in the Congress, and we would not view the DPP's obstruction tactics as legitimate democratic action.[MT -- once again, the 'only the DPP is doing it' refrain. Let's quote The China Post on the Mar 13 fun: "Several KMT legislators blocked the podium to prevent anyone from taking it; on the other hand, DPP legislators stood along the roster and held every microphone installed on the table."]
Taiwan is a democracy in transition. It faces challenges and some of those challenges come from the DPP. [MT -- let's recall why we're a democracy in transition -- because the KMT shot thousands of people and locked up thousands of others, and suppressed democracy here for decades, while the people who formed the party you say is engaging in 'undemocratic' tactics stopped them. You bet some of the challenges come from the DPP, but the vast vast majority of the problem is the "success" and legacy of the KMT.]
UPDATE: As J Michael Cole observes:
Brown was not speaking on behalf of AIT, as he is only a board member, nor was he a hatchet man on the Ma Ying-jeou government payroll. He’d simply involved himself into a very complex issue without fully understanding its context. And who could blame him, given that the media he likely relied upon for his information about Taiwan often couldn’t tell the difference between the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan? However, sources tell me that Brown hadn’t set foot in Taiwan in about seven years, sadly a not unusual absence for academics that are considered experts on the island’s politics._______________________
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