Tag Archives: democracy

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…

Swiss Democracy: No Donald Duck, But Yes, Pirate Party…

I have to say I’m a little shocked seeing that the Chinese are pirating the idea of a pirate party: the Wikipedia link says a Chinese Pirate Party is “in discussion” and is on the drawing board. I think that party’s pointless: nearly all of China is pirated. Don’t get me started on the trains: the CRH3C is a pirated version of the ICE 3 (albeit a legal pirate); no soul, obviously, would believe the propaganda that it is “Chinese because of technology transfer”. Even the doors still carry that invasive sticker: Made in Ybbs*/Austria. Unless the PRC colonised Ybbs (for the train doors, maybe), that’s still non-Chinese…

* How the hell do you pronounce “Ybbs”, by the way?

Ookie. So what’s all this talk about the Pirate Party all about? I was given a shock larger than electrocution (I think: I’ve never been electrocuted, and I think if I was, I probably wouldn’t be blogging here) when I found out that there was a REAL Pirate Party. Bang on the ballots for the Swiss National Council elections (to come 23 October 2011; I’ve, by the way, already sent my ballot back; I didn’t vote for them, for what it’s worth) — the one for the Canton of Zurich had it on page 10. I swear. Take a look at it. Right there — 18 potential “legitimate political pirates”. There are folks younger than I am on the list, and there are even a few sociologists amongst them. It’s crazy.

In China, people are flattened because they happen to stand in the way of a high-speed railway viaduct — and they failed to get the hell out of there in good time. This kind of polit BS would have been sent to Switzerland for a nationwide vote. We are finishing the Gotthard Base Tunnel in the mid-2010s because our people said so. Switzerland is part of the United Nations because I voted yes because I thought this nation had no more sane reasons to stay out of the freaking thing. Bank accounts in some deep, hidden-under-the-square safe just don’t get emptied out of the blue just because you’ve joined the UN. It just doesn’t happen like that.

The fact is, Swiss democracy works just like that. We are pestered up to 4 times every year just because some idiot couldn’t figure if it was OK building this stretch of freeway this way across this yard or that way. But that’s how we’d like it. We don’t advertise to the rest of the world that we are “most democratic” so-called, and we don’t bomb Afghanistan or Libya because they’re “unfree”. In fact, Moammar Gaddhafi wanted to declare “jihad” on the Swiss. Not a single bomb was dropped on Tripoli from the authorities in Berne — and this from a nation that was the target of a Gaddhafi-dictated “jihad”. We’re comparatively cool people!

About the worst thing that happens on Swiss ballots is the requirement that you choose someone who is alive, breathing, and Swiss. No foreign cultural imperialist icons — and by no means Donald Duck. That’s a sucker, given. And we don’t get to choose our Federal President. Rats. But that’s about all there is to it that sucks about Swiss democracy. The rest — is just neat.

Oh, and did I mention that you need “just” 100,000 valid citizens to amend the Swiss Constitution in full?