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By Cindy Chang (Student at National Taipei University Department of Law)
The “Family Protection Referendum” proposed by the Faith and Hope League recently achieved over 16 millions petition signatures in a single month, reaching the standard and was sent to the Central Election Commission. This referendum case is very critical and has provoked two groups of people criticizing it on the Internet.
One group thinks this is an anti-same-sex marriage referendum, while the other thinks it is against the constitution. As Lu Chiu-yuan, a lawyer in Taiwan, mentions in an article, the content of the referendum is against the law. As a law passed by the Legislative Yuan and declared by the president, it is effective. Its content is against the constitution because it breaks the rules of separating powers and infringes legislative powers. This is not the meaning of the referendum rights our constitution entails people.
Both of these problems are controversial, but they are not what I am going to talk about in this article. Instead, I want to focus on how the referendum reflects people’s mistrust in legislators. As we all know, legislators are usually the worst among all government officers according to a survey on the trust of the Taiwanese. The referendum represents the mistrust in Taiwan’s constitution and representative democracy.
What’s ridiculous is that representative democracy is also the meaning of the existence of legislators, which is speaking up for the people and practicing the principle that people hold power. I just turned 20 this year, so I haven’t voted before. However, when I was growing up, I heard many adults say they think voting is merely choosing a less rotten apple among all the rotten apples and putting it into a decayed basket. Meanwhile, I have also discovered prejudice in Taiwan’s society accumulated from history and facts.
First of all, my grandparents’ generation went through the White Terror period, so they are politically apathetic. And my parents’ generation hates politics because of the endless politician corruption scandals, violence and chaos in congress, along with seeing the never-ending arguments between the KMT and DPP.
Because of all of the above, elders usually think it’s not a good thing to let their children become politicians. They think people in the political field must be corrupted and that all politicians are in it for money. Basically, our society thinks legislators are all greedy and dishonest regarding the budget.
Furthermore, increasingly more money has been spent on elections in the past few years. You adults that have the ambition to do something for the society don’t have the money and network to do so. Those who can pay for running the election need to prepare a massive amount of money, which creates a vicious circle because they will need to earn back this money during their time in office. This ultimately leads to current and running legislators to all be bigwigs.
The Taiwan society has been going through freedom and multi-shocks in recent years. There are still are still huge improvements that can be made in social movements. As a young adult in Taiwan, I love the island and sincerely want to do all I can to make it a better place. A Chinese emperor once said, “If you take copper as a mirror, you can fix your appearance; but if you take a person as a mirror, you can realize what you have lost and gained." Democracy in Taiwan has been achieved through great effort and has gone down a bumpy road. It is still not mature, so we should follow and learn from the development of democracy in relatively mature European countries and America.
First, regarding transparency of the congress, Taiwan should change the system of the Procedure Committee in order to create equal chance for every proposal and normalize the procedure, so that the committee can’t just do whatever they want. In addition, we should reveal the party’s meetings to make the production and passing of laws become more public. Regarding referendum, I think we should learn from the Swiss. Not only should the procedure be more convenient for the people, but threshold of the turnout rate should also be lowered to increase efficiency. Last, I think we should lower the standard of party ratio from 5% to 3%, so that small parties can survive and different voices can be heard.
It will be my first time voting in a few days and I believe that, “where there is a right, there is a remedy," so I will definitely vote and select a proper candidate seriously. But as Election Day approaches, I have also encountered the difficulty of not knowing who is a diligent legislator, so I did some research on the Internet and found some relevant websites.
In this election, there are a lot of websites that provide information for us to reference to, which I take as a kind of progress. In the four years after I vote, I will carefully observe the legislator in my district and decide if I will vote for the person again next time around. I believe that if every one cares more about actual political achievement and not the public social activities of politicians, Taiwan will become a better place.
Translated by Zoey Lo
Edited by Olivia Yang