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Apersonanongrata
2020-08-12

One of Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous quips is: “Glory is fleeting but obscenity is forever.”Archaically, obscenity means filthiness or foulness.President Chen Shui-bian must bear that in mind when he let his new premier appear on the floor of the Legislative Yuan to make an administrative report today.

Chang Chun-hsiung, who is the premier for the second time, was once declared a persona non grata by the nation’s highest legislative organ.If a diplomat is declared a persona non grata, he has to be recalled at once.Chang was reappointed and can face the lawmakers, thanks to a constitutional amendment in 1992 that exempts his confirmation by the Legislative Yuan.

The ignominious moniker was attached to Chang, because he suspended work on Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant in 2000, triggering a very costly national crisis.Chang announced the suspension as Lien Chan, the then chairman of the Kuomintang, stepped out of the Office of the President, where he had just been given Chen’s personal and official assurances that the work would continue. Convinced it was a stab in the back, the irate opposition alliance of the Kuomintang and the People First Party tried to impeach the president, who had to have the work resumed in the spring of 2001 to tide over the crisis.Taiwan had to pay a heavy penalty to foreign contractors of the nuclear power project, which, together with the concomitant losses, topped NT$100 billion.

The new premier may bask in glory for a while.That glory is fleeting.The opposition is ready to propose a no-confidence vote to avenge Lien Chan probably before the premier could get the 2007 national budget adopted.That budget should have been passed by the end of last year.It has been stalled because the opposition that controls the parliamentary majority links it with a bill for the reorganization of the Central Election Commission.Founded under the Executive Yuan in 1982, the commission is in charge of planning and supervising elections, national as well as local.It has to be reorganized by June 26.The cabinet wishes to keep it under its control, but the opposition wants it reorganized with commissioners appointed according to proportional representation, the reason being it will call referendums alongside the presidential election of 2008 to boost the chances of Frank Hsieh, the Democratic Progressive Party’s standard bearer.

Even if the opposition left him alone, Chang could do nothing on his own.In fact, President Chen is governing Taiwan by proxy – for a little less than a year.Chen doesn’t want to be a lame duck, though he is.He has promised an eleventh-hour détente with China, but will continue to write a constitution and “rectify the name” of the country to give Taiwan independence as he vowed in his “Four Wants and One Without” policy statement.But both Chang and Chen will soon learn their fleeting glory will be followed by obscenity, which as Napoleon says is forever.