Taiwan's future in the balance

The Taiwan News has a great editorial today about the choices Taiwan faces in 2008. 

The year 2008 may become the most crucial year in Taiwan's history as our 23 million people will decide with their ballots whether to stay on the challenging road of democratic deepening, Taiwan-centric "well-being" economics and self-determination of the Democratic Progressive Party or take the certain path of return to quasi-authoritarianism and corruption and marginalization in the "great China" economic sphere under restored Kuomintang rule. 

The Taipei Times also had an editorial yesterday about Taiwan's economic performance in 2007.

The economy grew 5.46 percent year-on-year compared with an increase of 4.89 percent the year before, while total trade volume is likely to hit a record high of US$450 billion this year.

Despite volatile food and energy prices, the consumer price index is estimated to increase by just 1.65 percent from last year and the unemployment rate is predicted to hold steady at 3.9 percent — both more or less in keeping with government targets.

Despite the constant negativity that echoes around, Taiwan is not doing too badly. I don't think the KMT can claim that it would have done a significantly better job managing Taiwan's economy. 

However, the difference between the DPP and KMT is not in their economic policies. It is in their support for democracy and the rule of law. The KMT has been displaying its true colors of late. The KMT is brazenly seeking to undermine the democratic process in Taiwan. If they are successful it does not bode well for Taiwan's future. The Taipei Times today reports on the KMT's plan to boycott the forthcoming referendums. 

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — the initiator of two referendums to be held this month and in March — resolved yesterday to boycott the two referendums — the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its own — that are scheduled to be held simultaneously with the legislative poll on Jan. 12.

The KMT's Central Standing Committee passed the resolution to boycott the DPP-proposed referendum on recovering assets stolen by the KMT and the KMT-proposed referendum to empower the legislature to investigate misconduct of senior government officials and their family members.

It goes beyond belief that a political party would gather the signatures for a referendum and then proceed to boycott it. In normal democracies political parties campaign for a yes or no vote in a referendum. Only in exceptional circumstances would they propose a boycott. However, the KMT is not a normal political party and as long as it continues to play a major role in Taiwanese politics Taiwan cannot be a normal democracy. Another excerpt from the Taiwan News editorial:

The past eight years offer a mountain of evidence proving that the greatest obstacle to the consolidation and deepening of democracy and to the Taiwan's progress toward economic well-being and social equity is the KMT itself.

The choice really is that stark. The two elections to be held this year will determine if Taiwan continues to develop as a democracy or goes backwards.