Friday, October 30, 2009

Pseudo-DPP, Ersatz KMT

Pseudo-DPP, Ersatz KMT
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 30, 2009

A group of Green Camp officials in Chiayi, led by former Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ho Jin-song, openly criticized the DPP candidate for County Executive. They accused County Executive Chen Ming-wen and candidate for County Executive Chang Hua-kuan of being "pseudo-DPP" members. They said Chen and Chang were trying to obtain the party's political backing by switching their party affiliations. Especially worth pondering was that they made their debut the same day they defected from KMT candidate Hsiao Teng-piao's campaign.

By coincidence, amidst the three-way struggle between the Blue and Green camps in Hualien, rumors of a "Green Hsieh Alliance" have emerged. The DPP will allegedly ally itself with Chang Chih-ming, who quit the party to run on his own. Chang Chi-ming is regarded as Hsieh Sheng-shan's successor. He may throw his support behind the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate for Mayor of Hualien, in exchange for Tsai Ing-wen's support. How much support Chang Chih-ming actually has is hard to tell. But the DPP is betting on Hsieh Sheng-shan based on his residual value as a Kuomintang member for half his life.

Compare this to the storm currently raging over the fixing of baseball games. The political arena has a long history of apostasy, changes in allegiance, and even defections in the heat of battle. The difference is that players who fix baseball games are criminally liable. If they are discovered, not only will the fans reject them, they will never be able to play professional baseball again. By contrast, political apostates can apparently do whatever they wish. They can openly defy party discipline and betray the party's principles, yet they always seem to have elaborate rationalizations for what they have done.

Fixing baseball games is not the same thing as political defections. But what difference is there between a politician defecting from his own party in the heat of battle, and a ball player ignoring his coach's instructions but instead taking orders from a triad boss on the sidelines?

Eight years ago, Chen Ming-wen took off his Blue KMT robe and raised the Green DPP banner. He helped Chiayi County become a Green domain for the first time. The DPP boasted that "party politics had put an end to local factional politics." But eight years have passed. Has Chiayi County put an end to local factions? Hardly. If anything, the political ecology has become even more complex. Green camp officials in Chiayi are accusing Chen Ming-wen and others of being "Pseudo-DPP" members. Not only do their ideologies clash, other more complex factors are involved. These self-styled "Veterans of the Democratic Progressive Party" are throwing their support behind Hsiao Teng-piao, who just removed his Blue KMT robe. This proves that in Chiayi County, "party politics" is nothing more than a rumor in the wind, with no basis in reality.

The current campaign has seen widespread rebellion within the KMT. This shows that even after twenty years of hard work, party politics is merely skin deep. Internal strife within the Green Camp further illustrates this phenomenon of "in the same business, but working toward different objectives." This is not just the KMT's problem. For the KMT, long-term entanglement with local factions eventually left it at the mercy of local factions. This is the thorniest issue Ma Ying-jeou must face. The DPP meanwhile, has spread itself too thin. It was unwilling to cultivate new talent. Instead it adopted a strategy of recruiting Blue Camp defectors. It is perishing because its ideology and its methods are incompatible. This will eventually lead to a schism.

Consider the internal strife within the Green Camp in Chiayi County. Is Chen Ming-wen a "pseudo-DPP" member? Or are those denouncing him "pseudo-DPP" members? In all likelihood, even the DPP leadership doesn't know. Never mind that while the Democratic Progressive Party was in power it used every trick in the book to incite Blue Camp defections. Chen Ming-wen's original reason for defecting to the Green Camp was that he sensed the emotional fervor behind the support for Chen Shui-bian, and jumped on the bandwagon. But that was then. The Ah-Bian craze has died down. What the public wants now is soul-searching. The public wants the mess Ah-Bian left behind cleaned up. But the Democratic Progressive Party has absolutely no response to such public expectations. In particular, toward the end of Ah-Bian's term of office, countless loyal and upright members of the Democratic Progressive Party were forced to leave. Today, the DPP leadership can no longer speak of the "Democratic Progressive Party spirit." Party members are still arguing over who is the "real" DPP candidate in Chiayi County. One really has to laugh.

Ironically, while the Green camp is condemning "pseudo-DPP" members, so many Blue camp officials are "ersatz-KMT" members, no one even cares. Cheng Yung-chin is a local leader of the ruling KMT. Yet he threw his support behind a candidate who refused to participate in the party primaries. As a result, his party membership was revoked. That was hardly an injustice. If Hsieh Shen-shan falls into the "Green Hsieh Alliance" trap, isn't that a confession he was merely pretending to be a KMT member for the past several decades?

A number of years ago, martial law was lifted, democracy was rampant, politicians ran wild, alliances were forged, then dissolved. One still enaged in ideological disputes. Such disputes promoted democracy. But today, political apostasy is motivated by power lust and self-interest. It undermines party politics and the system of democracy. Those who have trouble understanding cause and effect need only look at the fixing of professional baseball games. A few bad apples can ruin the entire game of professional baseball and shatter public faith in sportsmanship. The same applies to politics.

2009.10.30 04:36 am










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