• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:24am

Lessons we can learn from successful Taiwan election

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 February, 2012, 12:00am

As the Chinese saying goes, 'Three shoemakers are better than one Master Zhu', referring to the smartest military genius in ancient China. Sure, the shoemakers may not be as smart as Master Zhu, but through debate, the ideas they come up with will often be well thought out.

This is the essence of democracy. However, the world seems to have forgotten this important trait. Instead, election results are in the spotlight. 'Power to the people' is the well-known chant, reflecting that the modern public concept of a democratic government is that the people hold ultimate power.

Victory of the people is now tied to victory of the party. And as seen in the chief executive candidacy

vote run by the Hong Kong pan-democrats, it seems to be a widespread belief that unless the politician can run the government, the election will be a failure. In other words, it is the results, not the process, that matters.

Perhaps the Taiwan election held last week can remind us of the importance of the democratic process. While the world was impressed by an election held successfully by Chinese people, I was touched by the stepping-down speech of candidate Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai gracefully accepted the results of the election and congratulated her rivals. 'We accept that we have lost, and we accept the Taiwanese people's decision today. We congratulate President Ma [Ying-jeou] on his victory. We hope that he would continue to listen to the voice of the people.'

Tsai pointed out that although they lost the election, it was still a victory for the people. 'Taiwan cannot have the voice of an opposition. Perhaps we would not be able to impact policies in the place of the policy-maker, but our voices have been heard and will continue to make a difference.'

The whole crowd was in tears after the 10-minute speech, which re-ignited their spirits and morale.

Tsai was right - the significance of an election is not only in the result, but more importantly in the debates of opposing ideas during the race that will ultimately shape the policies of the new government.

Different voices are heard

during any election, and through participation, citizens are able to give their input.

The essence of elections is not to choose a Master Zhu, but rather for thousands of shoemakers to decide on the political fate of a country.

To me, the Taiwan election sets the bar for Hong Kong and the mainland not only through its results, but more importantly through rational public involvement.

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