Rebuilding a politics of hope is vital if Taiwan is to step into a peaceful future
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
In her keynote speech at Columbia University on April 29, former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for every police department in the country to have mandatory police body cameras to improve transparency and accountability.
Her calls for broad criminal justice reforms respond to repeated incidents of police violence against unarmed black men from Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore. She said that Americans have to come to terms with the truth about race and justice in America. Clinton unveiled her plans to overhaul the current criminal justice system, including bringing an end to mass incarceration through sentencing reform.
The same day in Washington, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. The premier called for closer ties with the United States and said Japan was undertaking domestic reforms necessary to take part in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. “Japan will not run away from any reforms. We will keep our eyes only on the road ahead and push forward with structural reforms.”
Abe also addressed Japan’s role in the Second World War. “History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone,” he said. “I offer with profound respect my eternal condolences to the souls of all American people that were lost during World War II.”
Although covering dissimilar ground and serving different functions, the speeches by Clinton and Abe are united by a deep sense of hope and optimism and courage to rise to greater challenges. They provide valuable lessons for our politics and changing times.
The deep mistrust between Taiwan’s ruling and opposition parties has led to long-standing gridlock the debate about the proper course for economic progress. But in fact, the two parties have more common grounds than most people think. Both want Taiwan’s economy to prosper, and both do not want Taiwan’s freedom of choice to shrink. This common ground should be enough to form a domestic consensus and principle to guide Taiwan’s long-term strategy and objectives on cross- strait relations. The government and opposition party should cooperate to diffuse tension, build consensus, and put the country’s interests ahead of partisan agendas.
“I know in a time when we’re afflicted by short-termism ... we will have to overcome deep divisions and try to begin to replenish our depleted reservoirs of trust. But I am convinced ... that we can rise to this challenge. We can heal our wounds ... And we can make sure that we take actions that are going to make a difference.”
“Enemies that had fought each other so fiercely have become friends bonded in spirit.”
Taiwan cannot afford again to be torn apart by history or heightened hostility and mistrust across the strait. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should one day build mutual trust to achieve real truce and reconciliation. We should not give up this hope for peace.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, Taipei City has seen the home-price-to-income ratio almost doubled from 8.33 at the beginning of 2008 to 15.73 at the end of 2014. This means that a household will need to save its entire earnings for almost 16 years to be able to pay for an average home in the capital city. The urban phenomenon is complicated by current conditions of sluggish economic growth, stagnated wage increases, deteriorating income equality, and other socioeconomic challenges that have heightened the public’s anxiety about the future.
As Hillary Clinton said: “Let’s protect the rights of all our people. Let’s take on the broader inequities in our society. You can’t separate out the unrest we see in the streets from the cycles of poverty and despair ... Despite all the progress we’ve made in this country lifting people up ... too many of our fellow citizens are still left out.”
“It is a time for wisdom.” Alfred E. Tsai is a graduate student at Columbia University studying Economics and Politics.