Former DPP Chairman Shih speaks about negative votes


TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德) expressed his support for a proposal to change the voting system in Taiwan again yesterday, saying that the current system does not represent democracy at its best.

“There are two things I learned in the course of my life and my constant struggle for democracy. The first one is that freedom is always earned by those who start a revolution, instead of a gift from those in power or those wielding all the benefits. The second is that the struggle for democracy will never end; every generation has to fight for democracy,” said Shih in a speech held at National Taiwan University yesterday.

Named the director-general of the Negative Vote Organization (NVO), Shih gave clarification yesterday on the credit and heat he has been taking for the proposal, which he said was not his idea. “I am merely the spokesman for this cause, but I support it wholeheartedly after Sam Chang (張天鷞) explained the heads and tails of it to me,” said Shih, referring to the well-known financial advisor who also doubles as the secretary-general of the recently founded organization.

Shih joked that after he had been taking so much heat for the organization, they should treat him to a meal.

The NVO proposed to add a “no/minus” vote as an option in local elections as a way to allow civilians to express their ideals thoroughly. Like the original system, all voters are only allowed one vote, but they will be able to express their disapproval for candidates if they do not find them fit for the position, and the negative votes will cancel out ordinary votes in counting the final ballots — the candidate with the higher number of positive votes wins.

Aside from Shih and Chang, other advocates for the proposal include former Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker and National Security Council chief Su Chi (蘇起), former Premier Sean Chen and Charles Kao (高希均), cofounder of the business magazine Global Views Monthly.

In his speech, Shih recounted his early years as a democracy advocate and later opposing former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for corruption, saying that the current era is one that is easily dominated when it comes to worshipping or hating a political figure.

“I wanted a way out of these grudges, to reach an amicable solution, but I was seen as the enemy because I spoke out against the A-bian god ... are we going to keep passing on the hate and the disputes?” asked Shih, who stressed that the negative vote is a proposal that will bring about progress, in spite of different opinions people have.

The DPP should encourage changes and innovation instead of ignoring different ideas and prohibiting the progress it once supported, said Shih. “Power corrupts. This is why we need negative votes, to root out councilors and legislators who have been re-elected regardless of the unfavorable things they have done against the people's wishes,” said Shih.

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