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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Lame-duck Ma could be a threat to the nation

Lame-duck Ma could be a threat to the nation

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The Taipei High Administrative Court ruled against the Ministry of Education in a case involving its curriculum guidelines committee — which recommended controversial adjustments to the high-school social studies curriculum — for failing to release the names of committee members. However, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is ignoring the court’s ruling and pushing ahead with the changes.

Deputy Legislative Speaker and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential hopeful Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) on Thursday last week in a radio interview said that the high-school history curriculum underwent comprehensive changes during the administrations of former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and the names of those curriculum committee members were not made public.

“We are simply returning [the curriculum] to the right track,” she said, adding that the curriculum can contain differing narratives, so long as it conforms to the basic principles of diversity, tolerance and respect, as laid out in the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution.

Using the Constitution to justify the ministry’s self-labeled “minor adjustments” to the curriculum shows Hung has absolutely no understanding of the document.

Convention dictates that the high-school curriculum be revised every six years. During Lee and Chen’s administrations the curriculum was revised in a transparent manner and the proposed changes were put before the electorate. The Ma administration changed the curriculum again in 2012. Although the pan-green camp was unhappy with the changes, the revisions did not go so far as to completely distort history.

The curriculum was not due to be revised again until 2018, yet Ma is attempting to rush a radical overhaul before leaving office.

If the Ma administration wanted to completely overhaul the curriculum, why did it not do so in 2012? The answer is that in 2012 Ma needed to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate so that he would stand a chance of being re-elected for a second term. He did not dare force any radical changes.

Now that he now longer faces electoral pressure, this problem no longer exists. Thus, even the most extreme policies are currently being pushed through government.

Without that pressure, Ma will be even more inclined to force through the most outrageous of policies. More frightening still is that next year there will be a four-month transition period between the Jan. 16 presidential election and the inauguration of the next president on May 20.

If Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wins the January election, Ma has time to invoke his presidential powers to bring Taiwan to a complete standstill.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) opposed the merging of next year’s presidential and legislative elections. However, due to a number of DPP legislators wanting to capitalize on the “Tsai effect” to improve their re-election chances, the DPP did not support the TSU’s initiative.

Concerned that Ma would use the four-month transition period to inflict serious damage on Taiwan, the TSU proposed a bill to regulate the handover of the presidency, setting out rules and responsibilities for the outgoing and incoming presidents. It would have prevented an outgoing president from carrying out subversive activities detrimental to the nation.

Unfortunately, the KMT killed it off after DPP legislators chose not to lend their support, because they were worried about the January elections. They might live to regret their actions.

Chen Mao-hsiung is an adjunct professor at National Sun Yat-sen University and chairman of the Society for the Promotion of Taiwanese Security.

Translated by Edward Jones

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2015/06/25

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