Sunday, January 18, 2009

Jerome Cohen is Outraged

A China Post editorial said the other day that the ROC was never meant to be a democracy...
Did you know that the Republic of China was never meant to be a democracy? That's right. A nation named the “Republic of China” was never meant to be a democracy. It was meant to be a republic, just as its name suggests. Now how shocking is that?
The seeds were planted at the beginning.....

The Taipei Times reports on another scathing set of remarks from President Ma's former law school mentor Jerome Cohen:
The Harvard Law School mentor of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that his former student needed to act urgently to prevent an “increasingly disturbing circus atmosphere” from prejudicing his predecessor's right to a fair trial. Jerome Cohen's comments to The Associated Press follow last week's biting skit that mocked former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), performed by prosecutors at a dinner celebrating “Law Day,” which was attended by Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), judges and other members of the legal community.


Cohen, now a law professor at New York University, is one of the world's foremost experts on legal systems in Taiwan and China. He mentored Ma three decades ago at Harvard and they remain close. They last met in the presidential office in Taipei on Dec. 16.

In a telephone interview with AP, Cohen called performing the skit “unthinkable.”
The remarks of Cohen, whom private sources told me is "outraged" at the mess that has been made of Chen's trial, appeared originally in the International Herald Tribune. Cohen originally supported Ma's election as President (CFR visit a couple of years ago), but recently has been criticizing the KMT's handling of the Chen Shui-bian trial, most recently here, and before that, intrepid reporter Jenny Hsu caught him on a trip through Taipei in December with an earlier version of those comments (and in November too). Good work, Dr. Cohen.

The fullness of time is revealing how the KMT's obsession with Chen has been a massive political error. Had the Party left the judicial process alone, it would not have attracted the attention of outsiders, and the consequent heightened scrutiny and negative media coverage. Had it not then locked Chen Shui-bian up, he would be running around the island, spouting bombastic, easily satirized nonsense, and chilling public opinion about him. In detention, he is silenced, while the KMT assault is busily making him into a folk hero as public attention focuses on Chen-as-prisoner, not Chen-as-defendant. A smart friend of mine further pointed out that the media's attacks on his daughter have also generated sympathy.


無名 - wu ming said...

the most irritating thing about that tired old "republic, not a democracy" line is that republican government is meant in contrast to monarchical government, not the democratic process.

both america and the republic of china were republics in that they were overthrowing monarchies, not in opposition to democracy. both were originally conceived as democratic republics or a rather aristocratic bent. and both have evolved to a more popular democracy as the people have fought for their inalienable rights in both the streets and courts.

i've only ever heard that lame line in america from people trying to rhetorically score a cheap point because republic sounds like republican. it's bad news seeing it in taiwan. popularizing a contempt for democratic process and the sovereignty of the will of the people is a necessary step to cultivating acceptance for ending democracy.

Tim Maddog said...

It's interesting how open they've been about a few certain things, ain't it?

* Liu Chao-shiuan: "Ma Ying-jeou only said "馬上就會好" to get elected. He could never have pulled it off to begin with."

* Lin Fang-yue(林芳郁): "If we don't get the enterovirus situation under control soon, you'd better start praying."

* Wang Ching-feng: "Yeah, that travesty of a skit was about Chen Shui-bian. So what?"

* China Post: "A dictatorial 'republic' is better than a democratic 'mob' anyday. It's time to end democracy!"

Awesome! Pretty soon we're likely to hear: "There's a Commie spy in the Presidential Office." D'oh!

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

Unqualified idiots in the legal system. Good thing Ma Ying-jeou has nothing to do with that, I mean, besides appointing the current nimwit asocial Justice Minister, he's never done something like, oh I don't know, hold the position himself?

Anonymous said...

"Jerome Cohen is Outraged"

So what?
笑死人了 Jerome Cohen 他是哪根蔥 哪根蒜啊? 憑什麼他說了算?

Taiwan Echo said...

Michael:"The fullness of time is revealing how the KMT's obsession with Chen has been a massive political error. Had the Party left the judicial process alone, it would not have attracted..."

They can't help it. It's hard to change the nature: "狗改不了吃屎" (Dogs can't change their nature of shit-eating)

Tommy said...

This is one of the dumbest China Post editorials yet, notably for their terribly corrupted definitions of Republic and Democracy.

So if a Republic is a government where the rule of law is observed, then an absolute monarchy can indeed be a republic as long as the monarch's laws are carried out according to the letter. So a Republic necessarily must be something different, right?

And if a Democracy strictly signifies a rule by an unruly mob, it must be something to be avoided at all costs. So why do so many stable governments worldwide incorporate democratic elements?

This is where the biggest travesty of this editorial comes into play. It totally fails to recognise that a republic with democratic elements is no less a republic and that such a government can be very successful and fair. So who says the Republic of China can't be democratic and still be a republic?

Ironically, one of the quotations that the editorial so glibly introduces to the reader emphasises the fact that, while the founders did not want a strict democracy, they nevertheless understood the value of democracy: Alexander Hamilton said, "We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or IN THE EXTREMES of Democracy."

Hamilton, like many founders, wanted a government that combined rule by an enlightened class with rule by the people, which is where popularly elected representation --a midpoint between pure democracy and monarchy came from. Moreover, none of the other quotations the CP mentions conflict with this desire. They say what people have known for centuries: Extreme democracy is too volatile to be viable. Even the Greek city states did not let everybody vote.

It amazes me that the China Post continues to be valued as a source of news by international readers when such poorly written pieces like this grace its editorial column.

TicoExpat said...

Weird that lately I've found so many people exercising arguments against freedom...

Anonymous said...

Truth be told, one of the reasons the CSB saga has dragged on so long is because of Wu SuJen has been stonewalling. If she would just answer the damn questions, Taiwan can close this sorry chapter of it's history and start dealing with much bigger problems now facing the nation.

I realize the KMT is 1000x more corrupt, the judiciary is screwed up plus the blues are going after this couple with a special hatred because they dared to put their hand in the KMT cookie jar (as Jerome has mentioned several times). No matter, this family should have been smarter at such as critical time in Taiwan's history.

Anonymous said...

The China Past editorial brings to light a lot of good quotes - quotes that more Americans need to see, but the CP falls down by not using and explaining better accepted definitions of Democracy and Republic.

But that doesn't make the article unworthy of consideration. It is unclear where they were trying to go with it, but I can see a way it applies.

A democracy, on the other hand, is a political system founded upon subjective standards, on the shifting sands of “mainstream public opinion,” better known as mob sentiment. Disputes within a democracy are settled by first inciting, then “consulting” the mob, through endless elections, plebiscites, and referenda. The whim of the mob is the final authority.

Did we see this behavior with the KMT having turned the mob against Chen and then attempting to use that anger to justify unlawful treatment of him?

Perhaps ironically, I would argue that this lesson is more important for Americans in a couple ways.

First, we have had calls in recent years for more and more "democratic" government in terms of things like "direct elections". There have been a lot of complaints, for example, about the electoral college. However, I not only think the electoral college is a good idea, I think we should go back to having the Senators appointed by the State governments. Do we really believe our Senate has been better since direct election of Senators started? Yes, democracy has its place, but so does some level of insulation from the whims of the mob. The House of Reps was designed to represent the mob, while the Senate was designed to be more deliberative. It was a good idea and we should have kept it. Now all we have are two parts of congress that frown on thought or deliberation and prefer instead to put their fingers in the wind to see which way the campaign donations are blowing.

Second, we have a legal system is caught between to major philosophies for interpreting the U.S. Constitution. One one hand we have those who believe in a "living, breathing" Constitution and who believe that we should simply re-interpret it for the outcomes they desire when public opinion changes. On the other hand, we have those who believe we should follow the Constitution as it was written and modify it by amendment when we believe it falls short. By chance they line up with the party names. Those who would creatively re-interpret the constitution to get the results they favor are generally Democrats and those who argue for stricter interpretation are generally Republicans.

Anonymous said...

On reading the China Post “The Republic of China: A Republic, not a Democracy” article, I had a notion of where had that article originated from. I went to the source and give it to you as is in Bevin’s words.

The Founding Fathers knew Democracy doesn't Work -- Why don't We?

“Friday, October 13, 2006
How Democracy Really Works
How Democracy Really Works
Bevin Chu
October 12, 2006

The Founding Fathers knew Democracy doesn't Work -- Why don't We?

America's Founding Fathers were farsighted political visionaries. In fact, they were much more. America's Founding Fathers were "avatars," i.e., embodiments or personifications of new principles, new attitudes, and new views of life. As such, they understood, as today's kneejerk "champions of democracy" do not, that democracy is the worst form of government ever tried.

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

As John Adams, 2nd President of the United States put it, "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

What? Never heard of Bevin? Anyone connected to ROC’s shady affairs on Taiwan should know about Bevin, the arrogant ABC sired by Tsing-kang Chu – that humble servant of the ROC diplomatic corps - who was safely representing the ROC in Canada while Nanking was allegedly raped by the Japanese Kwangtung Army. And he was still safely there while Chiang Kai-shek hopped around China and across the strait to Japanese Formosa in his flight from those brazen Reds.

Here’s Bevin’s bio from his own HP: “Bevin Chu is an American architect and author currently living and working in Taipei and Shanghai.”

A successful American architect lucky enough to be hopping between, say Seattle and Chungking in pursuit of juicy contracts, and squandering his precious time as a faceless stringer for a trashy Chinese sheet on Taiwan? Bevin…, ungrateful scion of a humble servant of ROC on Taiwan, from his abode in the neither world, Tsink-kang must be wielding a broom and chasing you around for squandering a Formosan tax-payer sustained American education.

I know you were around when MLK made his “I have a dream” speech. What does it tell you about the wonders a democratic ideal can bestow on a worthwhile republic?

Like Must-hate Ma, you are living testimony that the path to hell is paved with the best of intentions.

Anonymous said...


The world media and the international community gave favorable response to Chinese President Hu Jintao's proposals on promoting peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations. Ethnic Chinese in Britain, Portugal, the United States and other countries hailed the proposals as "pragmatic, sincere, flexible and full of new ideas."


Ethnic Chinese in Britain have paid close attention to Hu's address delivered at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the mainland's "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", and said the central government's "foresighted and pragmatic" attitude on cross-Straits relations touched a chord with them.

Shan Sheng, head of the UK Chinese Association for the Promotion of National Reunification, said the six proposals not only sum up cross-Straits relations in the past 30 years, but also serve as a guiding framework for the relations in the coming 30 years.

The proposals of reaching peace agreements and jointly promoting Chinese culture are two new ideas, he said.

The 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization will serve as a link to unite the Chinese on both sides of the Straits, and their ethnic kinship, which can be best described as "blood is thicker than water," will enhance cross-Straits cooperation, he said.

taiwan can solve his indepence problem with china ONLY if it send chinese ocupants back to home..

Dixteel said...

When I first read the China Post article few things pop in my mind...1st is what exactly are they trying to say? 2nd Do they have a concrete argument.

By reading Wu Ming, Thomas and Readin's comment, I think it's quite clear that the article seems to be conveying a wrong statement or twisted argument. Or rather, the writer doesn't have enough knowledge about democracy/republic and didn't think through the matters thoroughly, but still trying to convey his point of view by quoting the founders of the US.

So the question remains, what exactly was the author's intention in saying ROC was intend to be "republic," not "democracy?" Doesn't he/she think it's possible that ROC founders' intend it to be a democratic republic? Is he/she trying to convince people about unification between China and Taiwan? about anti-election? or about anti-referendum? I am not sure...maybe all of the above.

And hack...being a post based in Taiwan, they should care more about what Taiwan people want, not what ROC founders want. ROC founders' vision is designed for China, not Taiwan. Taiwan requires its own vision. Some KMT people will argue those ROC founders are the reason for Taiwan's current democracy. That's very far fetched in my opinion, but let's say they somehow contributed, but wouldn't they think differently if their nation is an island, not a continental mass? Wouldn't they think differently when the "ROC" situation is so different now, if they are still alive?

Anonymous said...

ROC founders' vision is designed for China, not Taiwan. Taiwan requires its own vision. Some KMT people will argue those ROC founders are the reason for Taiwan's current democracy.---

remember what KMT is and what it was founded for..