In one of my favorite adventure tales, Island at the Top of the World, the heroes escape the crazed Viking inhabitants of a remote polar island by venturing into a fumurole that the locals have named the Mouth of Hell. From there they reach the graveyard of the whales, from which they escape to the outside world. The only difference between this tale and that of the Taiwan premiership is that the heroes of the book actually returned to civilization. Taiwan premiers, by contrast, are unable to leave the graveyard.

The Taiwan premiership claimed another victim this week as Primier Su promised to not only lower the crime rate, but leave politics if he doesn’t. Is there less oxygen at the elevated altitude of the premiership, or what?

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has promised not only to step down as premier if the crime rate does not fall in six months, but also to leave politics altogether. There’s a riskiness in such politicking that will not help Su in his drive for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential nomination. This strategy has since been sanctioned by the Presidential Office.

Su is the DPP’s best hope to beat Ma Ying-jeou in 2008. The premiership has already claimed formerly popular Frank Hsieh, who left the position amid a cloud a few months back. Now it seems set to eat Su. As the Taipei Times points out in its editorial:

Meanwhile, the Mainlander-dominated criminal network Bamboo Union and other pro-KMT thugs must be rubbing their hands with barely suppressed glee. If Su is Ma’s only credible challenger for the presidency, then here’s an open invitation for them from Su himself to contribute to his possible removal from office by markedly increasing their criminal activity. Pro-DPP criminals, for their part, are hardly likely to wind back their operations and place limits on their livelihoods to indulge a politician’s risky strategy.

And my feelings echo this:

Now that Su has floated the prospect of resignation after the shortest time possible in the job, DPP supporters who have seen their premiers come and go must be starting to get that sinking feeling again.

Yup. Are we incapable of learning from experience? This only goes to show, BTW, why we so desperately need Constitutional reform here. The office is pointless and should be abolished, and the Cabinet posts brought under the direct control of the President, or else operated as a Parliamentary system. The current model is ridiculous.