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DPP Government Sinking into an All or Nothing Predicament

DPP Government Sinking into an All or Nothing Predicament

The twin issues of the construction of the Suao-Hualien Freeway and the dismantling of the Loh Sheng Sanatorium in Hsinchuang have become hot potatoes for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government. The problem that has come to surface here is, generally speaking, a conflict between the interests of individual local concerns and those of the central government. But in the midst of this conflict the ruling party risks further predicaments if it pursues old tactics of choosing one or the other alternatives.
Looking at the Loh Sheng Sanatorium controversy we see the issue of resident rights verses the rights of Hsinchuang citizens. While the Loh Sheng Sanatorium is a landmark worthy of preservation, it is impeding the completion of the Hsinchuang rapid mass transit line. While there may be a conflict of interest here, there are also points where the interests of both sides coincide. The question is whether the government will be able to find a more suitable wider platform from which the interests of both sides can be served.
Similarly, while the Suao-Hualien Freeway project has over 70% support of Hualien residents, many environmental experts are still opposing the plan. While these experts are opposed to most large construction projects they see as negatively impacting the environment, you have counter opinions voicing concerns about the promotion of local development through the construction of better roads. One source of support for the construction of the freeway comes from local hotel and inn operators on the east coast.
Whenever there is a conflict of interest, the problem of exploitation arises. While the construction of the Suao-Hualien Freeway would promote better transportation in the region, it would also exploit the natural environment. Not building the freeway on the other hand would exploit the interests of the residents of the Hualien, reducing them to second class citizens by making their region even more inaccessible. It is especially hard to estimate just how much benefit local residents will derive in the long run from tourism against long-term environmental considerations.
The point here is that developments in social sciences have already provided us with new thought paradigms. Earth science scholar James Lovelock has proposed his Gaia theory. Part of this theory contends that while environmental problems have been mostly manmade, from the perspective of the history of earth physiology or biology, the vitality and adaptability mechanisms of the earth can mitigate the harm technology does to the environment. What mankind needs to do is maintain and improve various types of technology and not necessarily return to a “state of nature” in balancing the effects.
Furthermore, the concept of Industrial Ecology developed out of a compromise between the interests of capitalism and environmentalism. Former US president Bill Clinton led a national technology policy meeting that made the idea of Industrial Ecology a guiding principle. This helped gradually bring what was considered a radical concept into mainstream thinking.
Many of the DPP core values it held as opposition party, such as opposing the construction of any more nuclear power plants, have since faded away when it took over as ruling party. This has in essence made the previous opposition voice the same as the KMT. The government is catering to huge investors and not keeping up with the trends of the times by embracing new ideas that can produce mutually beneficial solutions.
In this day and age, the definition of so-called “democratic politics” seems to be merely talking about political issues. The DPP lacks a viable platform capable of drawing on experience to establish an effective consensus. This has dragged public policy decisions down to an either or quagmire. Public policy has no absolute right or wrong, as factors of the times need to be weighed in making decisions. This sort of public decision making should not become an all or nothing proposition. If the Su Chen-chang led cabinet cannot see the real source of problems and insists on standing at their opposite end, then the only thing they are doing is going down a dead end street.


Updated : 2021-04-17 07:31 GMT+08:00