Past Presidents and their Contributions to Taiwan
by Glendy Chu, from news reports
translated by Bevin Chu
December 12, 2007
Of all the presidents of the Republic of China, who contributed the most to Taiwan? The answer, according to a United Daily New opinion poll, was: In first place, Chiang Ching-kuo (50%). In second place, Lee Teng-hui (11%). In third place, Chiang Kai-Shek (6%). And in fourth place, Chen Shui-bian (5%).
The poll also asked: Which presidents’ merits outweighed their demerits? The answers were: Chiang Ching-kuo. 65% say his merits outweighed his demerits. Chiang Kai-shek, 29% say his merits outweighed his demerits, despite the fact he has long been cast as an authoritarian strongman. And in last place, reigning autocrat Chen Shui-bian, 5% say his merits outweighed his demerits, despite the immense resources of the State at his disposal.
Chen Shui-bian’s ratings were the lowest. Chen Shui-bian, who bills himself as the “Son of Taiwan” received an approval rating lower than Chiang Kai-shek, the man he has attempted to vilify as the “Chief culprit in the 228 Incident.”
The public shares a common historical memory: Taiwan’s transition from martial law authoritarianism to liberalism constituted a Golden Age. Once the Democratic Progressive Party assumed power however, everyone ceased referring to “Taiwan’s economic miracle.”
The public shares the perception that after the DPP assumed power, Taiwan underwent a relentless decline in many areas. The perversions of the lawless Chen Shui-bian regime have turned Taiwan into a spiritual and moral desert.
Chiang Ching-kuo was close to ordinary working people. His best friends were laborers. He empathized with the underprivileged. His administration was close to laborers and farmers, and kept its distance from wealthy businessmen. He despised the corrupt, and never trusted them. He detested “black gold” corruption. Today’s rulers by contrast, are kleptocrats, officials who collude with businessmen to exploit the poor for the benefit of the rich.
Chiang Ching-kuo’s frugal lifestyle, compassion for the downtrodden, and unpretentious public image, were spontaneous expressions of his inner character. By contrast, today’s politicians are petty and caustic. They harangue ordinary citizens. They display scant sympathy for the common man, and behave hypocritically.
Chiang Ching-kuo loved Taiwan. He didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. During the August 23 Battle of Kinmen, he risked his life looking in on the troops at the front lines. Chen Shui-bian by contrast, lied and exploited legal loopholes in order to evade military service. Chen Shui-bian talks about his “love for Taiwan,” even as he destroys Taiwan.
Chiang Ching-kuo braved the elements leading military veterans as they built the Central Cross Island Highway. He exercised unflagging determination, entrusted only individuals of character, promoted major infrastructure projects, and created Taiwan’s economic miracle. An equitable educational system enabled children from Category Three Impoverished Households to attend National Taiwan University. Under Chiang’s rule, society was harmonious, crime was low, and the people enjoyed increasing wealth and prosperity. The “Chiang Ching-kuo Era” was a Golden Age in the nation’s history. His contribution to Taiwan cannot be denied.
People today say that given the choice, they would choose an authoritarian president who was selfless and altruistic, clean and uncorrupt, who loved the common people, who led the nation to prosperity, over a shamelessly selfish, insatiably greedy, hopelessly incompetent president such as Chen Shui-bian, who knows only how to incite ethnic hatred and empty the nation’s coffers.
Chen Shuibian is a complete fuck up when the average person in Taiwan thinks he is worse than Chiang Kai-Shek…The polls speak for themselves.