Friday, April 17, 2009

The Party Chairmanship won't help a Teflon President

The Party Chairmanship won't help a Teflon President
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 17, 2009

Last year, following Ma Ying-jeou's May 20th inauguration, a controversy erupted over whether he ought to stand on the "first line" of battle or the "second line." At the time President Ma declared that he had "absolutely no intention" of assuming the KMT party chairmanship.

At the time, we had two comments. First, for the President to assume the party chairmanship, is an important strategic weapon. It is also a kind of lifeboat. The President can choose not to assume the party chairmanship. But he must never say "I absolutely will not assume the party chairmanship." Because on a rapidly evolving political battlefield, no one should ever declare that he will never make use of a strategic weapon or a lifeboat. Secondly, given the situation following the 2008 Presidential Election, President Ma must not "retreat to the second-line." Therefore, if necessary, he must consider assuming the party chairmanship.

President Ma should assume the party chairmanship for two reasons. One. When Ma was elected president in 2008, the electorate expected him to be a leader of the nation. But he apparently only wants to be a President as spelled out in the wording of the constitution. There is a world of difference between a "sitting President" and a "leader of the nation."

Two. Fundamentally speaking, three different relationships are possible between a nation's ruling government and the ruling party. One. Under a cabinet system, with its internally created political parties, the Premier is also the party chairman. Two. Under a presidential system such as the United States, the executive and the legislature are separate. The party is merely a machine for fund-raising and for waging election campaigns. It cannot control the legislature. Naturally there is no party chairman to rival the President. Three. Under Communist dictatorships, with their externally created political parties, the party chairman trumps the head of state, and can assume the role of head of state. The Kuomintang and Democratic Progressive Party were originally Leninist political parties. The party was the government. Following the nation's democratization, the President could still choose to act as party chairman. To wit, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian. The party and the government will then be in synchronization. If the president chooses not to, then a party chairman can organize a legislative caucus and make trouble for the directly-elected president. Broadly speaking, the last possibility is structurally defective. It stands outside the first three possibilities.

In fact cooperation between Ma and Wu is quite smooth. It is unlikely to lead to the sort of scenario outside agitators describe. But Ma and Wu are "two heads." Wu Poh-hsiung is Ma Ying-jeou's senior. He has his own political style, his own political consciousness, and his own political connections. That is why Chiu Yi was able to scuttle Shen Fu-hsiung's nomination as Vice President of the Control Yuan. That is why the "Public Servants' Unaccounted For Assets Act" ran aground. That is why the Diane Lee incident dragged on past the point of remedy. Ma Ying-jeou "respects Uncle Wu." He respects the separation of party and government. Wu Poh-hsiung has his own political style, political consciousness, and political connections. This ensures that such fiascoes will occur again and again, and this is what the public will sees. An old saying in the West states that "When two ride on a horse, one must ride behind." Ma and Wu may be close, but two heads cannot ride a horse side by side.

Ma Ying-jeou's problem is not limited to whether he should assume the party chairmanship. If the "teamwork" method of doing business remains unchanged, assuming the party chairmanship will only increase the burden. The situation will only become more difficult. We would like to offer the following two suggestions.

First, Ma Ying-jeou must give up his Teflon Presidency. Ma has enormous charisma. But his key staffers are removed from the public. In fact, Ma Ying-jeou need not assume the chairmanship of the party. All he needs to do is unite Ma Ying-jeou, Vincent Siew, Liu Chao-hsuan, Wang Jyng-ping, and Wu Po-hsiung. If he can inspire the other four to unite and dedicate themselves to their comrades, the structure of his administration will be decided. But Ma Ying-jeou's "sense of propriety" could easily degenerate into a reluctance to assume responsibility and alienation from the public. Otherwise, Ma, Siew, Liu, Wang, and Wu would not be watching their backs and so fearful of each other. They would not have allowed Shen Fu-hsiung's nomination to be scuttled, the Public Servants' Unaccounted For Assets Act to run aground, and the Diane Lee incident to deteriorate past the point of remedy. What are these five leaders doing for the nation? They are standing right next to each other. They are not at opposite ends of the world. The crux of the problem is a "Teflon Presidency" concerned only with a sense of propriety.

Secondly, Ma must establish a dedicated task force. The Ma administration is populated with thinkers, not doers who are inclined to empty talk, and unable to make things happen. Nan Fang-shuo's criticism of Ma Ying-jeou as "style over substance" is dead on the mark. Ma Ying-jeou initially hoped to "retreat to the second-line." This is decadent Confucianist "Heaven is silent and the seasons pass in orderly fashion" thinking. In today's democratic politics, crises arise daily. In such hand-to-hand combat, there is no "second-line." If Ma is only about style, and has no team that can produce anything of substance, he will find it impossible to shake off his image as "just another pretty face." For example, together the Presidential Office, the Cabinet, and the Party have three Secretary-Generals. They lack vitality, lack creativity, or are merely assigned to the wrong positions. They have been assigned to their posts merely on the basis of seniority or to keep up appearances. Such individuals have no ability to lead or unite whatsoever. If Ma Ying-jeou assumes the party chairmanship, he must not be a top down KMT leader. He must inspire his team to lead from the bottom up. To lead the party, he must transform his political style into a political mission, and his political mission into political accomplishments.

Ma Ying-jeou should consider assuming the chairmanship of the party. Throughout the government and the party, there must be a single political vision, and not several "heads," each attempting to promote his own vision. This new political vision must demand integrity and transform style into substance.

2009.04.17 05:44 am






但是,馬英九的問題,尚不只在兼不兼任黨主席;倘若其「團隊工作」(Team Work)的經營方法不變,兼黨主席後,恐只是更增勞瘁而已,反而可能更陷捉襟見肘的境地,在此也有兩點評論:




No comments: