On 28th February, President-Elect Tsai Ing-wen promised to establish the 228 Truth Commission to investigate and declassify all the files in the martial law era. The DPP caucus will draft the Politial Archive Act in order to establish historical truth. Hsieh believes that transitional justice is very difficul but the price of not handling it appropriately will be even higher. Over the past few decades, Taiwan’s democratisation has been like ‘paying in installment’. The immediate payment is smaller but the process is long and drawn out. Hsieh led the draft bill for state compensation and admission of liability (賠償). Ma Ying-jeou was the Minister of Justice at the time and insisted on compensation without accepting responsibility (補償). This made a lot of difference for the victims. It was not until 2005 when Hsieh was Premier the amendment in relation to the attribution of responsibility was adopted. Redress for and investigation into historical incidents are very difficult. If we persist, justice will prevail, albeit a bit later than expected. However, the long and protracted process makes it difficult for the society to reconcile.
Like recovering improper assets, investigating 228 and establishing the truth is part of the transitional justice in Taiwan’s democratisation. Therefore, 228 should be considered and discussed in this context and reconstruct the truth through declassifying the files rather than getting fixated on the number of deaths and injuries or the comparison those figures between the Taiwanese and the Mainlanders. This would blur the focus and loses the historical significance of transititional justice.
Taiwan’s changes of governments have occurred democratically rather than through a civil war or armed revolution. Therefore, transitional justice will also be peaceful, with truth seeking and reconciliation as the main aims. It will not be as overwhelming as the process for the Nazis. It will not become a controversy that divides ethnic groups. Therefore, truth seeking and party asset recovery will both lift the KMT from their ‘sins’ and set Taiwan on the course of more normal party politics. The KMT therefore should not resist the cause.
In terms of what the PRC Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, stated in his speech in Washington DC, without mentioning the 1992 Consensus, he wished for Taiwan’s new government to accept the part of their own Constitution stipulating that the Mainland and Taiwan both belong to one China. This statement started widespread discussion, as most people would not believe that Wang Yi was being impulsive or mis-spoke. Hsieh points out that he does not believe Wang’s statement represents any change of Mainland China’s fundamental stance. However, after the DPP gets into the government, if both sides are entangled in their respective instance on whether the 1992 Consensus exists, it will lead to a gridlock. Besides, Hsieh has always believed that handing the cross-strait relations under the Constitution would provide a more solid legal basis and more stablity. That was why his proposal was for Taiwan to form internal consensus based on the Constitution (憲法共識) and build external relations on the basis that each side has its own constitution (憲法各表).