This is a speech taken from the last few minutes of the controversial TV-series that aired in China in 2003. The speech was reported as not being aired. It tells a dream of Sun Yat-Sen a century ago, and a dream of many today still.
I know you are all very worried. Zhang Xun restored the emperor; the Congress cannot meet again. I know. But this is not what I’ve been worried about. I have been thinking a lot these days:
It goes without saying that we are a republic, but why do things feudalistic and totalitarian emerge again and again! If this problem is not solved, the restoration of a dictatorship will be inevitable and the republic will always be a bubble.
The concepts of the Republic are Equality, Freedom, and Universal Love. But what have we seen during the six years of the Republic: All levels of government officials neglect the law. The people are still enslaved.
The Republic should be a country of freedom! Freedom is a right granted by God. But what have we seen during the six years of the Republic: Only the politicians have freedom; the more powerful have more freedom, the less powerful less freedom. The people have neither power nor freedom.
The Republic should be a country of universal love! Everyone helps me and I help everyone. But what have we seen during the six years of the Republic: There is only the people’s fearful love towards the politicians and the politicians’ false love in their speeches. The kind of honest and sincere universal love, we cannot see!
The Republic should be furthermore a country regulated by law. But what have we seen during the six years of the Republic is that the executive power unscrupulously intervene with the legislature again and again: If you don’t do as I say, I will pay you off; if you don’t obey, I will arrest you, or even murder you. The legislature has become a prostitute that the government officials ravage at their will.
What is the executive then? The executive should be the president, along with his entire administration system, working for the citizens and executing the policies of the Republic. But what have we seen during the six years of the Republic: It is a country ruled by one family hidden behind a republican flag. Under the executive of this family-ruled country, we cannot see transparent executive processes, not to mention a monitoring system. How did those government officials spend people’s hard-earned money? How much money did they stuff in their own pockets? You don’t know, do you? I don’t know either.
We all know that the justice system is a referee. What is this referee’s principle then? It is a constitution of the Republic empowering the people. But during the six years of the Republic, we have not seen such a constitution. Even the immature Provisional Constitution has been raped again and again.
Someone said…no, not one person, some people said: The Republic is merely a label. These things you Cannon Sun (a nickname given for the confrontational nature of Sun Yat-Sen’s speeches) speak of are too illusory, too remote, unsuitable for our country. It’s like a balloon: It looks beautiful, but once it goes up in the air, “bang”, it blows up. I would like to ask you: Do we not want a republic? Is republic really wrong? If republic is wrong, then freedom is wrong. If republic is wrong, then equality is wrong. If republic is wrong, then universal love is wrong! The republic we have been pursuing is not wrong. Of course, it is not yet perfect. That’s why we need to perfect it bit by bit, even if it requires us to pay a price!
Right, my outfit today is a little strange, isn’t it? Even the tailor said it was very peculiar. But if I say it is to perfect the Republic, would you still think it strange? I want to say, this is the republic, this is a republic jacket. On this side (pointing to one of his cuff’s), I designed three buttons; the ideals of the Republic are Equality, Freedom and Universal Love. On this side (pointing to the other cuff) there are also three buttons: nationalism, democracy, and social welfare.
What about the Constitution? I’m not talking about the Three-Power Constitution. I invented a new term: Five-Power Constitution. (Pointing to three pockets on his jacket) In here is the legislature, here the executive, and here the justice. You are all familiar with these three powers, called indirect democracy. What I most favour is direct democracy. The average citizen needs to have the right to directly participate and debate in politics.
In here is the right to write exams (pointing to the fourth pocket). Ever since the ancient China, we had had the tradition of selecting politicians based on their performance in examinations until we abolished the imperial examination system. Of course, the abolition was good for the spread of modern sciences. But one didn’t need to pass exams to become a politician anymore. This is not good. It was like throwing out the baby with the bath water. During the six years of the Republic, what kind of people have been used in the government? All of them are from Yuan Shikai’s Beiyang Army. So we need to return the right to write exams to the people. From now on, all government officials must be selected based on exam results, no matter who they are.
Another one is the right to impeach. There is no pocket left (touching all four pockets). Don’t worry; it can go in here (unbuttoning his jacket, pointing to the pocket inside): the right to impeach. Why do we hide it inside? It’s the people’s secret weapon. You never know when it will break out to impeach you. That’s why you need to be cautious in your position as an official, dutifully serving your people.
I think by now some people will be ever more determined to say I’m a madman, eating the republic and dressing the republic. What else do you know, Cannon Sun? They are right. I know only this one word; my whole life is devoted to this one word: Republic. Many of our patriotic friends have given up their lives for a republic. In my lifetime I wish for no other but this: That republic is not only a terminology, an empty word, or a formality, but it becomes our lifestyle in reality and it becomes our unbreakable faith. Republic is the choice of all people under the sky, the trend of the whole world. The world trend is mighty; the adapting prospers and the opposing perishes. I, Sun Wen, believe that we, the Chinese people, will definitely realize the republic. I firmly believe it.
(Translated from original version in Chinese to English by L.R.C.)