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Taiwan's democracy lacks support of sound political system: scholar

2012/05/23 23:04:47

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) A professor from Tamkang University said Wednesday that Taiwan's young democracy is facing a bottleneck, as its executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as the media, lack well-established systems and environments that encourage innovations and initiatives.

Su Chi, a former National Security Council secretary-general, said that "democratic development has come to a bottleneck," as it faces the problems of excessive social liberalization made chaotic by a failure to complement new measures with corresponding regulations and guidelines.

The country has opened up too quickly, a reaction to Taiwan's authoritarian background, he said. In response to a repressive past, universities, media and banks mushroomed, but such institutes soon lost their direction in vicious competitions.

However, "under the flag of liberalization, no one dares to question" the pace of the opening, he said in a key-note speech at an academic conference held to commemorate the late prestigious law scholar Chiu Hungdah.

In the speech, Su pointed out that most Taiwanese people do not trust public institutes.

Citing data presented by Larry Diamond, a prominent U.S. scholar of democracy studies, at a Brooking Institution conference on May 14, he said more than 60 percent of Taiwanese people regarded democracy positively in 2010, but less than 50 percent had confidence in public institutes.

In Diamond's survey, only 19.11 percent of the polled have trust in the Legislative Yuan, 14.1 percent in political parties, 29.7 percent in courts and 22 percent in media.

Diamond's data that pertained to the period between 2001 and September 2010 indicated a continual decline of trust, Su said.

Administration, legislation, the judiciary and media are Taiwan's "four powers," but none of them employs a system that has developed to its fullest potential, he criticized.

Many political appointees in the executive branch are bureaucrats, who he described as conservative and without the spirit of innovation and the courage to defend their policies.

Against such a backdrop, Taiwan can hardly make breakthroughs regarding foreign trade, said the scholar, who has served as a lawmaker and chairman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council.

He recalled once a foreigner told him that Taiwan desires to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with its trade partners, but "you only want A, not F or T."

In addition, "the research energy in the government is very weak," Su said, explaining that many government departments will throw "those who have bad personal relations" to research units.

As for the legislative branch, it passed an average of 100 bills a year when Chen Shui-bian was in power in 2000-2008. While the number has grown slightly to 160 per year in the succeeding Ma Ying-jeou administration, the number is far less than the 1,000 plus bills passed annually in the neighboring country of South Korea, he said.

Taiwan has transformed itself "from an autocracy to a democracy, and from a closed society to a globalized one" over the past decades, but its legal revisions have been conducted at a snail's pace, he criticized, warning outdated laws will definitely slow down the nation's progress.

Speaking of Taiwan's media, which he described as the fourth power of the country, Su warned it has grown so powerful it has become "the first power," with the executive and legislation branches both "following" media reports.

Only by pushing for reforms in the three branches and the media can Taiwan deepen its democracy and reinforce its economic development, Su suggested.

(By Chai Szu-chia and Elizabeth Hsu)