Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cohen/Chen on Ma Ying-jeou's Chairmanship win in WSJ

Valley train
Jerome Cohen, Ma's law school mentor, has one of his problematic pieces on Ma Ying-jeou in the Wall Street Journal today, essentially an extended apologetic for Ma breaking his promise not to become Chairman of the KMT while he served as President. Because Asian WSJ has already taken a letter from me on this op-ed for tomorrow, I won't go into this article much today.

I would like to revisit another Cohen piece from the Chen Yunlin visit, which was prefaced...
Ties that blind
Improved cross-strait relations appear to have come at a cost to some civil liberties in Taiwan
...back then Cohen seemed to understand that as Taiwan moves closer to China, it moves farther from democracy. This has also been clear in many of his subsequent pieces excoriating the Administration for its handling of the Chen Shui-bian case and other judicial matters. Yet, in the international sphere, Cohen totally fails to see the connection between the KMT at home and the KMT abroad.

In the current WSJ piece Cohen interprets DPP actions on the China talks in terms of KMT talking points --
Yet the forum discussions are unlikely to generate substantial achievements unless the KMT expands them to live up to their formal title, the Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum, by allowing a meaningful role—not a token one—for opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) representatives. This will require statesmanship on the part of both the KMT and the DPP. The latter will have to abandon its rejection of participation in the forum and instead press for a genuine opportunity to take part in planning and decision-making relating to the forum as well as in the forum discussions themselves. If the DPP continues its ostrich-like stance toward these historic talks, it risks losing much of its existing popular support.
Nowhere in any of this is the acknowledgment that the "historic" talks are not democratic, but instead carefully shielded from the oversight of the legislature, and from democratic practices such as referenda, and that the DPP objects to participation for just that reason, not because it has ostrich-like habits (that is a KMT talking point). It is certainly legitimate to criticize the DPP, but not to do so without acknowledgment of its stance on the issue.
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Anonymous said...

Hey Michael,

I wanted to throw out there that I've recently started reading your blog on a daily basis, and it just plain rocks. Thanks so much, your commentary and links are insightful and delightful and I appreciate what you're doing. Woot woot,


Michael Fahey said...

If the DPP continues its ostrich-like stance toward these historic talks, it risks losing much of its existing popular support.

This misreads Taiwanese politics badly. The DPP's existing popular support does not want the DPP to participate in the talks or otherwise soften its stance on Taiwanese sovreignty.

Michael Turton said...

Not to mention that the logic is all wrong. Even if the poll is correct, it doesn't follow that 68% want the DPP to join any particular negotiation.

Michael Turton said...

Rob, many thanks.

Joel Linton said...

I find that a lot of these foreigners pick up the KMT talking points line from reading the China Post. Even its name spells "elite" and "power" and "big stuff" and so many foreigners are taken in and will pick up a China Post instead of a Taipei Times. I just am at a loss to see how people can be so easily influenced -- it is as if they insist on living in a dream world and in that world where Taiwan is a broken off part of a beautiful, grand, ancient Chinese glazed porcelain piece, the only English paper in Taiwan that will echo the view that the so desperately want to believe in is the China Post.

Taiwan Echo said...

In his WSJ article, Jerome Cohen writes:

"Last year Taiwan’s able President Ma Ying-jeou"

How on earth did Cohen get this "able" impression, when every single large-scale construction under Ma's administration -- including all those he supervised when he was Taipei Mayor -- ended up disastrous, and the security of his President Office is leaking like a sieve ?

Some should do a calculation on how much Taxpayers' money he wasted.

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said...

lol @ Joel Linton.

The China Post is terrible that's true. It's not even worth wrapping fish in, but the Taipei Times and Taiwan News are almost as bad. Admittedly, it's probably not humanly possible to be as bad as the CP, but the TT and TN do a good job trying.

Robert R. said...

Yeah, but look at the FONT of the China Times logo. It just screams CLASS... and blood (to me).