Taiwan's hopes shattered

Everyone must respect the decision of a majority of the Taiwan electorate to elect Kuomintang ex-chairman as Taiwan president yesterday and thus return power to the former authoritarian party after eight years of Democratic Progressive Party administration.
Nevertheless, we believe that this result will prove to be a tragic event for our 23 million people and is far more likely to bring economic decline, political instability and social deterioration than Ma's promised "peace and prosperity."
Ma's election does not signify the beginning of hope or a step toward the realization of a "beautiful" or progressive peace, but the result of the result of the process of the "shattered hopes" of Taiwan's grassroots democratic and self-determination movement.
Undeniably, the outgoing Democratic Progressive Party government of President Chen Shui-bian bears heavy responsibility for this result for being unable to realize all of its promise and fulfill the sky-high expectations of our people for change after nearly 55 years of authoritarian and one-party dominant KMT rule.
But it should be noted that the DPP government was by no means without significant achievements in economic construction, financial reform, political structural change and social welfare.
Ironically, not a few voters who swallowed KMT propaganda about how Taiwan's economy was "ruined" by the DPP government were only to happy to take the High Speed Railway, drive through the Hsuehshan Tunnel or ride on the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System to cast their ballots against the democratic government that oversaw the completion of these projects with far greater efficiency and safety and far less graft than previous KMT governments would have been able to realize.
The DPP government's greatest failings concerned the emergence of corruption which, although paltry in actual significance to the previous five decades of individual and, especially, institutional corruption under the KMT party-state, nonetheless it is evident that all too many people, led by the media, look upon the DPP's relatively minor failings and the KMT's essential character of corruption with a double standard.
Indeed, restoration of "one party domination" by the KMT through control over the presidency as well as its effective three-fourths majority in the Legislative Yuan will lead to a grave and probably irreparable harm to Taiwan's democracy and human rights.
The KMT did not "win back Taiwan" through self-reform and improvement or a creative or bold program, but through eight years of political blackmail through its use of its Legislative majority to engage in a "scorched earth" policy against the DPP government and through slander and deception through the KMT controlled media and massive outright bribery through massive use of its ill-gotten party assets, the result of its five decades of institutional corruption.
With its domination in riches, organization, media clout and financial "generosity," the KMT retains a grossly unequal structural advantage in Taiwan elections which was fully manifested Saturday.
What Ma never said
It is significant that Ma has virtually never mentioned "democracy" along with his promises of "prosperity and peace" through closer ties and integration with the authoritarian People's Republic of China, which remains ruled by the KMT's former foe, the Chinese Communist Party.
Prospects for our democracy are now dimming, but the picture on "prosperity and peace" may not be much better.
Although it now will enjoy full governance, the KMT's close attachments to capital and its outdated economic mentality will be even less able to resolve the problems faced by today's Taiwan due to globalization and the PRC's rise than the DPP and quality and standard of life and social and political inequality for our people will only exacerbate.
The KMT, under two time presidential loser Lien Chan, patched up its bitter civil war with the CCP and engaged in a "party-to-party dialogue" with meeting with PRC State Chairman and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao in an open alliance against Taiwan's democratically elected DPP government.
Ma believes that the KMT can now rely on talks with Beijing for economic and transportation linkages that would be favorable to Taiwan, a "peace agreement" and a "way of living" for Taiwan's international space.
With the DPP sidelined, the question remains open as to whether CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao have further "use value" for the KMT's "lemon" after using it to squeeze Taiwan's democratic movement and whether the new KMT government may find itself facing even more intense from the PRC that may threaten the feasibility of Ma's political house of cards.
In the future, we hope Taiwan voters and even foreign democratic leaders will not have cause to regret warnings against allowing the return of KMT party autocracy and that Taiwan could become a "second Hong Kong," whose prospects for democracy will be deeply hurt by this setback, or even a "second Tibet."
We also hope that the DPP will be able to rebuild from this setback into a strong Taiwan-centric force for democracy and progress, link with progressive social and civic movements and transform this defeat into a "comma" instead of a "period" for Taiwan's democracy and eventually "reverse the tide" for the return of Taiwan-centric, democratic governance.