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DPP luminary contemplates bittersweet curse of success

Taiwan independence kingpin Koo Kuan-min has a gnawing worry. A senior advisor to President Chen Shui-bian, Koo hopes their Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will come back to power in 2016 but does not want to see the Kuomintang (KMT) knocked out and unable to stand up again. He described his uneasy apprehension in an exclusive interview with the widely circulated China Times.

Koo is certain that the KMT will lose the presidential race because it's unpopular and will be getting even more disliked by eligible voters during the rest of President Ma Ying-jeou's second and last term. He believes Ma's hegemonic party, which also has a firm majority control of the unicameral Legislative Yuan, has been arrogantly enforcing important domestic policies completely without regard for opposing public opinion to such an extent that anybody but the KMT standard bearer will win.

On the other hand, Koo does not hope for the KMT to be utterly defeated, the reason being that his party, if it wins big in the presidential and legislative elections in March two years from now, might also become an “arrogant hegemonic party puffed up with success.” “That, absolutely, isn't a phenomenon favorable to Taiwan,” he said.

His prescient fear is justifiable. If the current opposition party wins big in 2016, it could metamorphose itself into a hubristic hegemonic party like President Chiang Kai-shek's KMT. But the result would be that the party that has lost its Taiwan independence vision, according to Mr. Koo, won't be able to win the support of a greater majority of the people, and the governance of Taiwan after another change of government will remain just as bad as it is now, if not worse. That is what he describes as an unfavorable phenomenon for Taiwan and something that he absolutely can't accept.

The scenario Taiwan's staunchest independence advocate has drawn up is almost flawless, except that the DPP can't win the majority of voters not because of its Taiwan independence platform but by and large because of its refusal to give up the sanctified ultimate purpose of founding a Republic of Taiwan. The DPP has to interpret its resolution on the future of Taiwan as a declaration of Taiwan as an already independent, sovereign country whose current name is the Republic of China. The adoption of the 1999 resolution, also known as the Taiwan independence clause of the party charter, forced Koo to quit the DPP, though he rejoined it in 2003.

So, unless something really untoward occurs, there will be a minority government of the DPP in Taiwan in 2016, like that of President Chen's from 2000 to 2008. Chen won the presidential election of 2000 thanks solely to a split in the KMT. Ma won in 2008 because a great majority of people dumped the DPP and looked forward to Taiwan leaving a “lost decade” behind. Ma has let them down. They need a hero in 2016 to save them.

No such hero is likely to emerge. Despite his troubled presidency, Chen at least had a vision: to create an independent, sovereign state of Taiwan. Ma has none. A hero has to have a vision and be capable of making it a reality. Taiwan has no such political leader. One certain consequence is that the people of Taiwan will experience the second decade of the 21st century as another lost decade.

But there is one thing the opposition party can do right now to give Taiwan some respite. It can stop boycotting the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement and let it take effect as soon as possible, lest trade between Taiwan and China shrink to the detriment of all our people.

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