A self-confident President Chen Shui-bian will be calling a referendum alongside legislative elections in December or the presidential race in March next year.He wants the electorate to vote on the country’s bid to join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan.
That is a non-issue.Needless to say, everyone in Taiwan is for it, albeit he is absolutely certain it’s a mission impossible.Besides, President Chen will have applications filed with the United Nations in September – at least three months before the December elections – for rejoining that world body under that name.The applications will be rejected outright, just like in the past.
What is, then, the use of another stupid exercise in futility?
President Chen has an ulterior motive.Of course, he knows more than full well that Taiwan won’t be able to accede again to the United Nations from which it was ousted as the Republic of China in 1971 and that the whole world knows Beijing alone is trying to prevent Taipei’s rightful accession.The referendum, as a matter of fact, is a pre-election campaign gimmick to boost the chance of a Democratic Progressive Party victory in December or March.
It worked in 2004, though not as well as the two bullets fired against Chen and his vice president Annette Lu on March 19.The shooting was rumored by underground radio stations as an assassination attempt orchestrated in Beijing, and Chen was reelected thanks largely to sympathy votes on the following day.He wishes to repeat that success in winning a majority in the Legislative Yuan or getting Frank Hsieh elected to succeed him.
Wishing doesn’t always make it so.Voters are inured to the new trick the old dog has learned.They won’t go to the polls in droves to vote in enough DPP lawmakers to wrest the parliamentary control from the opposition or Frank Hsieh, who is fighting his Kuomintang rival Ma Ying-jeou against the heavy odds.