No matter how far away of geographically distant from each other, Nigeria in Africa and Taiwan in East Asia, have both consistently demonstrated their unwavering commitment to promoting democracy by freedom of casting their citizens’ ballots through electoral process.
Every four years, both nations diligently uphold their constitutional principles by having citizens cast the ballots to electing their respective President and parliamentarians. Nigerian citizens have fulfilled their rightful ballot casting February 2023, and Taiwan citizens cast their votes on Saturday, January 13th, 2024.
This rather common practice of Taiwan democratic system aligns not just with the principles enshrined in our Constitution, but also mirroring the democratic process witnessed by us in Nigeria last year. However, this year’s election in Taiwan holds immense importance as it symbolizes the collective voice of the Taiwanese people in shaping the future of our country, and also reflecting Taiwanese people’s attitude towards Chinese Government’s aggressive, or rather bullying, gesture that threatening Taiwan for several decades now.
Ironically, the totalitarian Communist dictatorship in Beijing, that has neither being democracy nor never ruled over Taiwan, has been claiming for more than seventy years that they “own” Taiwan.
Government of the people:
Just as Abraham Lincoln, former United States President, had defined Democracy being “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, it has indeed entails that citizens have the right and power to freely choose who their leaders are – whether as President or parliamentarians. For the 32 years of substantial relationship built between Nigeria and Taiwan, the two countries have witnessed and have overcome challenges promoting democratic values and way of life, by changing or re-electing our various leaders through due course of Constitution every four years. This is the fundamental values of Nigerian and Taiwanese citizens hold dear in our society.
But the totalitarian Communist dictatorship in Beijing, that has never ruled over Taiwan, claim that this much more time-tested governance system in Taiwan, does not fit the needs of their own people. They rather hand- pick people to positions and crave to dictating Taiwanese who should govern us.
Government by the people:
Government by the people implies that political leaders must attentively heed the voices of those they govern, in order to formulate policies that are tailored to the welfare of the citizens. While perfection may elude any democracy, the collective wisdom of the people, coupled with the willingness of political leaders to listen, can propel the entire nation and its communities towards positive progress.
In line with this notion, the venerable Chinese philosopher Mencius (or Mengzi) who equally important as Confucius, emphasized the paramount importance of prioritizing the well-being of citizens and individuals above all else like government or kings. According to his profound teachings that last for thousands of years, political leaders must always “place the people first, the nation second, and the emperor third” in the hierarchical order.
But the totalitarian Communist dictatorship in Beijing, that has claimed representing Chinese people and culture, ironically putting the Cart in front of the Horse, paying no interest to what the people need and want.
Government for the people:
The struggle for democratization in Nigeria and Taiwan has spanned decades, serving as a clear demonstration of a government of the people, by the people, through regular elections of our Presidents and Parliamentarians.
In order to overcome any challenges that may hinder our democracy and impede our quest for development, it is crucial for people and leaders to collaborate, both in mind and heart. This collaboration forms the basis of a social contract that builds mutual trust, as envisioned in our respective Constitutions, both now and in the future.
But the totalitarian Communist dictatorship in Beijing, that has never ruled over Taiwan, say exactly the opposite that no one should challenge the Communist rule, and Taiwan should not own a much-valued and self-developed democracy.
While the world pays close attention to Taiwan’s Presidential and Parliamentarian elections, we, the people in Taiwan, are focusing on continuously to vote wisely and ensure the longevity of our valuable democratic system. Despite ongoing pressure from the totalitarian Chinese regime, we are determined to defend our way of lives and our democracy with an independent judiciary and the free press.
Moreover, Taiwan’s democratic resilience has been further strengthened by its international alliances and support. Despite facing diplomatic isolation due to China’s pressure, Taiwan has successfully cultivated close ties with like-minded democracies such as the United States, Japan, European, Latin American and other Asian countries. These alliances serve as a testament to Taiwan’s commitment and achievements in democratic governance.
As a shining example of democracy in East Asia, Taiwan’s ability to sustain its democratic resilience serves as an inspiration and a testament to the enduring power of democracy. This is simply an echo of what Nigerian citizens have achieved in West Africa as the role model of Democracy.
Andy Yih-Ping Liu is the Taiwan Representative/Head of Mission in Nigeria