Not Quite the Nelson Mandela of Taiwan
October 04, 2006
Former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh
Executive Summary: Pan Blue protestors, in their struggle against ruling DPP corruption, are not wrong to cooperate with Shih Ming-teh. I myself took part in the September 15 圍城之夜 Seige of the City demonstration, and will take part in the upcoming October 10 Ten Ten National Day 天下圍攻 Universal Seige demonstration. But Shih Ming-teh is not merely fighting corruption, he is also promoting ethnic separatism. The most serious problem on Taiwan is not corruption, but racism. Self-hating anti-Chinese racism is both the emotional fuel that drives the Taiwan independence movement and the moral defect at its ideological core. Shih Ming-teh, unlike Hsu Hsing-liang, has never repented his advocacy of Taiwan independence. Shih Ming-teh, sad to say, has never elevated himself to the level of a Nelson Mandela. Therefore Pan Blue protestors can cooperate with Shih to fight corruption, but must reject Shih Ming-teh's 柔性種族隔離 "kinder, gentler" brand of racist Apartheid.
The Million Citizen Movement to Depose Chen
A September 22 editorial by the China Post entitled "Salute Shih Ming-teh!" [sic] gushed that former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Shih Ming-teh would go down in history as the first political leader to successfully rally support from both the Pan Blue and Pan Green political camps in the cause of clean government.
How Shih pulled off this feat is worth examining. Shih threw down a challenge. If one million people would contribute NT$100 (US$3) each as proof of their commitment, Shih would lead a mass sit-in before the Presidential Palace, resolutely refusing to leave until Chen either stepped down or his (illegal and illegitimate) second term ran out in 18 months, on May 20, 2008.
Coming from the "Nelson Mandela of Taiwan," Shih's promise not to throw in the towel before the goal was achieved carried considerable weight. After all, Shih toughed out 25 years in a cramped prison cell under the Two Chiangs. What was a year and a half in the fresh air and sunlight by comparison?
Shih named his protest movement the 百萬人民倒扁運動 Million Citizen Movement to Depose Chen.
Public response was nothing less than overwhelming. Even Shih was taken by surprise. His target of NT$100 million (US$3 million) was achieved not within one month as anticipated, but within a single week.
Most of Shih's support came from the estimated one million Pan Blue and independent protestors who surrounded the Presidential Palace on March 27, 2004 to demand a Ukraine style recount. As China watchers have noted correctly, Shih Ming-teh's Depose Chen movement has "a Green head and a Blue body."
These Pan Blue and independent voters cast their ballots for the actual winners of the 2004 Presidential Election, Lien Chan and James Soong. These voters were betrayed by a duplicitous Bush II regime determined to give US puppet Chen Shui-bian a second term even though they knew Lien/Soong had won by a 6% margin.
Their frustration over the past two and a half years has been roiling magma beneath an active volcano. These Pan Blue and independent voters have been joined by disillusioned Pan Green voters who regret having supported Chen and the DPP in the past.
As fate would have it, Shih was in the right place at the right time to tap into this reservoir of pent-up frustration. Pan Blue political leaders dropped the ball. Shih Ming-teh snatched it up.
Nelson Mandela 's Promotion of South African National Unity
Shih Ming-teh's reputation as the "Nelson Mandela of Taiwan" is not entirely unjustified. Shih endured 25 years as a political prisoner, just two years short of Mandela's 27. In terms of sheer suffering, Shih certainly ranks up there with Mandela.
Nelson Mandela, 11th President of South Africa
Shih Ming-teh also deserves credit for championing a 大和解 Grand Reconciliation between 本省人 ben sheng ren, literally "people from this province," i.e., "Taiwanese" and 外省人 wai sheng ren, literally "people from outside provinces," i.e., "mainlanders." I for one, believe Shih is sincere in his desire for intra-island reconciliation.
Unfortunately Shih Ming-teh's Grand Reconciliation falls considerably short of Nelson Mandela's truly grand reconciliation, as embodied in South Africa's Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act of 1995.
When Nelson Mandela championed reconciliation following the end of Apartheid, he didn't champion reconciliation only among some South Africans, he championed reconciliation among all South Africans -- blacks, whites, coloured, and Asians.
Furthermore, Mandela's Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act did not just promote reconciliation, it also promoted national unity, as its name clearly implies. Mandela even named his newly formed administration the Government of National Unity.
Former ROC Vice-president Lien Chan on his historic visit to Beijing
Similarly, when former "East China" (the Republic of China) vice-president Lien Chan embarked on his landmark 2005 Journey of Peace to "West China" (the People's Republic of China), he did not just promote near term peace, he also promoted Chinese national unity and Chinese reunification, just as Nobel Laureate Willy Brandt promoted German national unity and German reunification via his "Ostpolitik."
Shih Ming-teh's Promotion of Chinese National Disunity
By contrast, Shih Ming-teh's Grand Reconciliation promotes reconciliation only among some Chinese, not all Chinese. Shih Ming-teh's not so grand reconciliation promotes reconciliation only between ben sheng ren and wai sheng ren on Taiwan, not between ben sheng ren on Taiwan and wai sheng ren on the mainland.
Shih insists on defining Chinese in the Taiwan region of China as 新台灣人 "New Taiwanese" citizens of a would be 台灣國 "Nation of Taiwan." Never mind that the Republic of China Constitution defines Republic of China citizens as Chinese. Never mind that most Republic of China citizens vehemently object to being defined, against their will, as "citizens of the Nation of Taiwan."
On September 15, an estimated 500,000 to one million Depose Chen marchers surrounded the Presidential Palace and Presidential Mansion in a symbolic Siege of the City. According to Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou, the demonstration was the third largest in the island's history, the two largest being the March 13, 2004 Lien/Soong election rally and the March 27, 2004 Pan Blue protest against Chen regime election fraud.
Shih Ming-teh led Seige of the City
Shih Ming-teh lieutenant Wang Li-ping, intoxicated by the seige's spectacular success, shouted "Long live citizens of the Nation of Taiwan!"
She was booed off the stage and compelled to apologize for violating solemn assurances that the movement's sole purpose would be toppling Chen Shui-bian, not promoting Taiwan independence.
Meanwhile, Shih rejects reconciliation with wai sheng ren on the mainland, whom he classifies as "Chinese, not Taiwanese," i.e., foreign nationals, and if truth be told, "enemy aliens."
Just last month Shih Ming-teh boasted that ever since Hong Kong's retrocession in 1997, and Macao's retrocession in 1999, he has refused to set foot in either city. He even boasted that he refuses to fly on any commercial airline flight that traverses mainland Chinese airspace.
Disassociating Taiwan independence from flagrant, shameless, unregenerate ruling DPP party corruption is hardly sufficient to rescue the faltering Taiwan independence movement. Corruption, as repugnant as it may be, is not the central defect at the heart of the Taiwan independence movement.
The central defect at the heart of the Taiwan independence movement is not practical. The central defect at the heart of the Taiwan independence movement is moral. The central defect at the heart of the Taiwan independence movement is its self-hating "We're Taiwanese, not Chinese" identity politics.
As Sisy Chen, former DPP Public Relations Director noted, "The DPP is the KKK of Taiwan." As Cheng Li-wen, former DPP National Assembly Member noted, "I never wanted to believe that the DPP was racist, but it is."
This central defect at the heart of Taiwan independence ideology is something that too few political analysts have made an effort to expose and discredit.
Hanging the Head of a Sheep, Selling the Meat of a Dog
The Chinese have an expression: 掛羊頭 , 買狗肉 gua yang tou, mai gou rou, meaning "hanging the head of a sheep, selling the meat of a dog." The expression refers to an unscrupulous butcher who hung a sheep's head in his shop window to make customers think they were buying mutton, when in fact they were getting dog meat. The American expression "bait and switch" is similar, albeit not identical in meaning.
The name of Shih's ostensibly ad hoc organization in Chinese is 百萬人民倒扁總部 Bai Wan Ren Min Dao Bian Zong Bu. Literally translated it means "Headquarters for the Million Citizen Movement to Topple Chen."
The Official Logo for the Depose Chen Movement
So why was the Headquarters for the Million Citizen Movement to Topple Chen assigned the URL "http://www.newtaiwan.org.tw?"
Why wasn't it assigned the URL "http://www.topplechen.org" or "http://www.deposechen.org?"
Why was the Headquarters for the Million Citizen Movement to Depose Chen given the English name "The New Taiwan Foundation?"
Was Shih's organization really an ad hoc alliance whose sole purpose was to topple Chen, as its abbreviated name in Chinese, 倒扁總部 Dao Bian Zhong Bu, i.e., the Headquarters to Topple Chen, clearly suggests?
Or was Shih's organization created with an entirely different, longer term end in mind, as its name in English, "The New Taiwan Foundation" suggests?
Looking at Shih's dubious nomenclature from the opposite angle, why isn't the organization's name in Chinese 新台灣基金會 Xin Tai Wan Ji Jin Hui?
English literacy is depressingly low on Taiwan, even among better educated Pan Blue voters. Would making the organization's name in Chinese correspond to its name in English make its purpose just a little too obvious to the Pan Blue voters who constitute nine tenths of Shih's support?
Presumably Pan Blue voters have not forgotten who coined the term 新台灣人 Xin Tai Wan Ren, i.e., "New Taiwanese."
Answer: It was unregenerate apologist for Japanese colonialism Lee Teng-hui.
I'm not saying that Shih isn't deeply disgusted by Chen's corruption. I'm not saying that Shih doesn't want Chen to step down. I am saying that the real reason Shih wants Chen to step down is that Chen is destroying the Taiwan independence movement by giving it a bad name.
In other words, even though Shih is deeply disgusted by Chen's corruption, and earnestly wants Chen to step down, clean government isn't Shih's overriding concern. Shih's overriding concern is rescuing the Taiwan independence movement. Shih knows that unless he can disassociate the Taiwan independence movement from appalling DDP corruption, his cherished dream of Taiwan independence is done for.
One of the many ironies about the ongoing independence vs. reunification struggle on Taiwan is that many participants in the struggle, Pan Green and Pan Blue alike, don't understand what will advance their own cause.
On the one hand, if the burly, tatooed DPP thugs who have been physically attacking mild-mannered, middle-class "Depose Chen" protestors realized that former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh was desperately trying to save the Taiwan independence movement, they would be joining the "Depose Chen" protestors, not assaulting them.
On the other hand, Pan Blue voters who have flocked to Shih's side are not wrong to collaborate with Shih in order to topple the ruling DPP kleptocracy, but only if they remain alert to Shih's ulterior motives. They must insist that the alliance remain, as advertised, an ad hoc alliance dedicated to deposing Chen, and nothing more. They must not allow their contributions in time and energy to be misused promoting Shih Ming-teh's 柔性種族隔離 Soft Apartheid.
Shih Ming-teh has the right to promote his own political goals. But he does not have the right to defraud supporters who contributed time and money to depose Chen, only to have their contributions diverted into promoting Taiwan independence.
DPP Hard Apartheid vs. Shih Ming-teh Soft Apartheid
Two weeks ago Chen Shui-bian's obedient lap dog Yu Hsi-kuen barked at Shih Ming-teh and his 紅衫軍 Red Shirt Army lieutenants. Yu denounced them as "Chinese people who are abusing Taiwanese people."
Shih Ming-teh was so hurt by the charge he wept openly.
Many confused and disoriented Pan Blue patriots hastened to express solidarity with Shih. They didn't pause to consider why Shih was so hurt by the charge. They didn't pause to consider how and why the term "Chinese people" had become an epithet on Taiwan.
Shih wept not because his fellow countrymen on the mainland had been unfairly demonized. After all, Shih doesn't consider wai sheng ren on the Chinese mainland to be his fellow countrymen. He considers them foreign nationals, even "enemy aliens."
Shih wept because his continuing, costly, lifelong sacrifices on behalf of Taiwan independence were not appreciated by his comrades in the Taiwan independence movement.
Shih Ming-teh, like Chen Shui-bian and Yu Hsi-kuen, considers himself "Taiwanese, not Chinese." If anything, more so. Shih sacrificed 25 years of his life for a separate and independent, non-Chinese "Nation of Taiwan." What, by contrast, did Chen and Yu ever give up for the cause? How dare any of them accuse him of being "Chinese?" The injustice of it all!
Consider two hypothetical scenarios.
In 1930s Germany, a well educated, upper middle class German intellectual endorses the National Socialist Workers Party's political goals, but faults the party's methods as thuggish, hence counterproductive. Offended Nazi Party hardliners call him ugly names -- everything from "traitor to the Aryan race" to "Jew lover." German Jews rush to his side, expressing heartfelt solidarity with him, not realizing he feels hurt not because he disagrees with the Nazi Party's political goals, but because his good intentions are not appreciated by his fellow Aryans.
In 1960s America, a well educated, upper middle class white Southerner endorses the Ku Klux Klan's policy of white separatism, but faults the party's methods as thuggish, hence counterproductive. Offended Klansmen call him ugly names -- everything from "race traitor" to "nigger lover." Black civil rights workers rush to his side, expressing heartfelt solidarity with him, not realizing he feels hurt not because he disagrees with white separatism as a political ideal, but because his good intentions are not appreciated by his fellow White separatists.
Shih's response to Yu's self-hating anti-Chinese racism should have been:
"Fomenting ethnic hatred among our fellow countrymen by artificially dividing them into "Chinese" on one side of the Taiwan Strait and "Taiwanese" on the other side of the Taiwan Strait is morally contemptible and unworthy of a national leader!"
That would have been the response of Sun Yat-sen, the "Father of Modern China," whose overarching value was not 三民主義 San Min Zhu Yi, i.e., the Three People's Principles, as often assumed, but the ancient Chinese ideal of 天下為公 Tian Xia Wei Gong. Often expressed as as 天下為公 世界大同 Tian Xia Wei Gong, Shi Jie Da Tong, the phrase refers to the Universal Brotherhood of Man. Sun Yat-sen was not merely a nationalist who wanted to unify China, but a humanist who wanted to unite the human race.
Sun Yat-sen, Father of Modern China
Tian Xia Wei Gong, Calligraphy by Sun Yat-sen
That would have been the response of Mahatma Gandhi, the "Father of Modern India," who rightly opposed the political partition of India into two separate and independent nations, one Hindu and one Muslim.
Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Modern India
That alas, was not the response of Shih Ming-teh.
Shih Ming-teh, it pains me to say, fails to rise to the level of a Nelson Mandela, a Sun Yat-sen, or a Mahatma Gandhi.
Shih Ming-teh fails to rise to the level of these great world leaders, because he does not oppose Apartheid. He merely opposes one form of Apartheid while championing another form of Apartheid. He merely opposes intra-island Apartheid while championing cross-Straits Apartheid.
Shih Ming-teh fails to rise to the level of these great world leaders because his vision is too small, too constrained, too insular.
After all, even Chen Shui-bian has realized and acknowledged that "Taiwan independence is both self-deception and deception of others."
Former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsing-liang
Shih Ming-teh ought to follow the lead of former comrade Hsu Hsing-liang, a one time Taiwan independence radical who has seen through the myth of Taiwan "independence," and advocates a farsighted policy of 大膽西進 Da Dan Xi Jin, i.e., "Boldly Advancing West."
Shih Ming-teh, it saddens me to say, is not quite the Nelson Mandela of Taiwan.