Taiwan: A Democracy or a Democrazy?

I’ve seen Taiwan’s democracy / democrazy through all these years. (What a renegade Chinese mainland resident I am!) During the years of Chen Shui-bian, when (political) lines between Ilha Formosa and its communist rival on the mainland were drawn with every Chen speech, people were far from being 100% in agreement about what Ketangalan Boulevard was all about. Brawls in the legislature were not uncommon: often, these were deals between Mainland China and Taiwan. Water was poured onto legislators, microphones were broken, and what must have been a hundred-page report (unstapled!) were simply thrown onto the floor. Things turned from the rational to the irrational when pro-China legislator Li Ao was thrown a shoe.

We’re having exactly the same in Taiwan these days over a new agreement with Mainland China. Yes, I’ve been lazy these days — I haven’t checked what’s up re: this very issue on the Wikipedia. But the fact is, occupying a legislature is (a) not done “just like that” and (b) is a serious issue indeed. On Facebook I’ve been hearing a lot of views from inside Taiwan and there is one that me and others posted that seems to have struck a chord (loosely translated below):—

If we have a fight with China, the communist army will wipe us out. If we keep fighting with the government, all of Taiwan stands to suffer. Thing is: the Taiwanese are best maximising their own efforts. Just be you and be better in all that you do. Make people look at Taiwan — going away admiring Taiwan. That is the true hidden beauty of Taiwan.

That’s one point that seems to have won a fair bit of hearts. But the question remains: What if you have a government that seems to be going out of control? Throwing shoes and occupying legislatures happens in democracies that have a bit of an identity crisis, for these appear to be acts of democrazy in a democracy. But the people still think the government are going bonkers. And they want to be heard.

We need something, then, that’s called a veto vote. Yes, it’s a David Feng polit term that makes less than no sense. It’s like as if you were told that you had to shift gears to make a car with automatic transmission work (which would technically be OK, but would in reality invalidate the one big benefit of going automatic — saving you from shifting gears all the time!).

But the idea of the veto vote is that the people can come out and propose either a counter-proposal or an outright veto of a government bill. In countries where people aren’t so “vote-savvy” (such as China), one can allow here the system to enable both “open-air” meetings and meetings with “informed voters”.

The two things about a democracy that make it all the more worthwhile (and believe me, I myself am a citizen of such a democracy — Switzerland):—

  • “Mic power”: That you are able to speak on an equal level as that of the government (by airing your free thoughts — of course ideally a la Habermas and his public sphere, without Big Bad Business interfering with you);
  • “Veto power”: That you are able to bang on that Great Big Red Button whenever you see government acting like a bozo, going bonkers.

Of course, you can have other rights as well — but as a citizen of a democracy living in a communist nation, I find that these two “power rights” are what separates a PRC citizen from a Swiss (as an example).

Note: Ever since Switzerland’s political EU-suicide on 09 February 2014, I have stowed away my “Swiss pride” and have become a vocal critic of the Swiss authorities — for a very simple reason that you can’t simply let the crowds tear apart an agreement you let them sign in the first place. It’s like: Oh great, I found my wife liked seafood, and I never liked that crap, so we’re divorcing. Instant knee-jerk reaction: Huh? Switzerland (and the SVP in particular) — you need to grow a few brains. There’s a better way to solve the immigration issues than to force yourself into isolation — that makes you eventually look like some kind of European Pyeongyang…

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