25 de juny, 2007

Should Taiwan follow Singapore?

As political leaders move toward the critical legislative and presidential elections, there have been discussions about whether Taiwan should continue with a presidential system or change to a parliamentary one.

While there have been studies, mainly in academic circles, the pan-blue camp does not seem interested, and the pan-green camp has had internal discussions, but at this point the elections are taking up most of its attention.

Hong Kong has a "one country, two systems" model that was agreed upon between the UK and China, but not by the people of Hong Kong.

The people are now being reminded that Hong Kong has no autonomous power except that granted by China. That is well known in Taiwan, where the voters determine their government. They have made it clear that they oppose the "one country, two systems" approach, which both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) do not support.

Many Taiwanese voters doubtless are still uncertain who they want to be their next president, so they might also become interested in other political systems. Some domestic groups are discussing the political system in Singapore. It is mainly being touted by the pan-blue camp, but it has not seemed to be of interest elsewhere. At least not yet.

The pan-blue camp does seem to have considerable interest in the political system of Singapore. The KMT's presidential candidate has said that Taiwan could learn from Singapore's governance. He has mentioned that Singapore's policy is one of being open and pragmatic. Although it is different from Taiwan's, it is professional, corruption free, efficient and worth learning from. The government can reach consensus easily with no fighting. He said it should have been the route for Taiwan to take. Singapore is more stable -- it is more interested in "values" than democracy.

Of course, all these these suggestions make for a vastly different political system. In Taiwan, voters are active in all parts of governance, but in Singapore they are clearly silenced on the topic of politics. For several decades, the ruling People's Action Party has maintained a huge parliamentary majority of some 95 percent. There are little checks and balances in the government; permits are required for public speaking; print and broadcast media are run by the government; and public protests are prohibited. It would be hard if not impossible for the people of Taiwan to accept such a system.

In the 1980s, then Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan-yew (李光耀) often met with former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國). Since Chiang was pursuing political reform at the time, Singapore's system must have been discussed, although it is unknown what he thought of it. Others in the KMT doubtless saw this as one way of maintaining power until some form of unification could be agreed with China.

Full article

Font Taipei Times


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