KMT and PFP Supporters Oppose Confrontation
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 10, 2011
The candidates for the presidential and the legislative elections have gradually emerged. A split within the Blue Camp appears inevitable. People First Party Chairman James Soong publicly announced that the PFP would be seeking at least 10 seats in the legislature. Would he himself lead the party by taking a run at the legislature? Or would he hold a petition drive then decide whether to run for president? Both possibilities are under consideration. From the KMT's perspective, the Blue Camp has returned to its divided state in 2000. That division led to a nightmare. The Blue Camp lost of power, and the nation experienced a change in ruling parties. The pressure on the Blue Camp was enormous.
During the 2000 change in ruling parties, the Democratic Progressive Party failed to win an absolute majority. In other words, had the Blue Camp not split, the DPP would never have come to power so soon. But as we revisit history, the Blue Camp must face one fact. The Kuomintang may have developed and diversified. But unless it can implement effective internal mechanisms and procedures, it will repeatedly experience internal division and discord.
The problem began when Lee Teng-hui became president. A split arose between traditional KMT members and proponents of "localization." The New KMT Connection and the Thoughts-Gathering Alliance fought tooth and nail, Several years later they developed into the New Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union. Looking back, "localization" within the KMT is no longer an issue. It has already taken root. Its roots are already deep within the soil. But localization is not Taiwan independence. To some extent localization helped Lee Teng-hui remain in power for 12 years.
As for the bad blood between Lee Teng-hui and James Soong, it was merely a naked power struggle. Soong perceived the "freezing" of the Taiwan Provincial Government as an attempt to deprive him of power. It also suggested that the ROC might eliminate the Taiwan Provincial Government altogether, and move toward Taiwan independence, But the freezing of the Taiwan Provincial Government over a decade ago proved one thing. Although the Taiwan Provincial Government's administrative efficiency had already been called into question, the Republic of China did not move toward Taiwan independence. Its administration was upgraded and improved.according to the law. Even if James Soong had been elected president in 2000, he would not have restored the Taiwan Provincial Government.
After the first change in ruling parties in 2000, the People First Party enjoyed considerable public approval. But following two attempts by the PFP to collaborate with the Chen regime, Blue Camp supporters began to wonder about the People First Party's political priorities. Even more troubling, word emerged that the PFP and the DPP were making quid pro quo power deals. When James Soong proclaimed that the People First Party would go its own way, his troops had already participated in the KMT's party primaries, and were running as KMT candidates. Lo Shu-lei is running for the legislature under the KMT banner. Lo said that James Soong is not making trouble for no reason. She said President Ma should publicly promise that if he wins a second term, he will appoint James Soong premier. This surely grated on the ears of Blue Camp supporters, It surely grated on James Soong's ears as well.
From the People First Party's perspective, "dissent should not be equated with disunity." If the Kuomintang refuses to extend its hand in friendship, how can there be any unity? But the KMT may still feel aggrieved. Just what is that James Soong wants? Suppose that in 2008, the nation experiences yet another change in ruling parties? Suppose the KMT invites James Soong back to the KMT as a vice chairman, but gets turned down? Suppose People First Party candidates who promised to return to the KMT, renege on their promises, but instead run for office, either as legislators without portfolio, or as district representatives? Most People First Party officials have already been granted positions within the Ma administration. They have gradually risen within the hierarchy. Must James Soong be appointed premier before the Ma administration's governance can be affirmed? James Soong has blasted the Ma administration full force. Premier Wu Den-yih has been on good terms with James Soong. How must he feel hearing Soong say these things?
Regrets however, cannot solve problems. Lee Teng-hui and Lien Chan have withdrawn from the political arena. But the old Chung Hsing case remains unresolved, despite Ma Ying-jeou's return as KMT Chairman. It remains an ulit fuse that could touch off conflict. Lawyers for Ma and Soong clash constantly. How can they meet each other earnestly? How can they engage in an exchange of views?
Ma and Song may not be able to unite. But that does not mean that the KMT and the PFP must split. At one time Lee and Soong split, Lien and Soong fell out, Today Soong may be a guest of honor at Lee Teng-hui's birthday. Lien and Soong are even closer. On the Mainland and on Taiwan, James Soong never ceases praising Lien Chan for making cross-Strait peace possible. Having suffered the consequences of disunity, Lien and Soong have become brothers in arms. Politically, they are not really enemies. The KMT and the PFP were never enemies.
How much support does the People First Party still enjoy? That remains to be seen. But from the KMT's perspective, the People First Party must not become box office poison. Honorary Chairman Lien Chan should act as a buffer. He should wine and dine James Soong, Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng, former Examination Yuan President Hsu Shui-teh, Vice Premier Wu Yung-ming, and Secretary-General Liao Liao-yi. He should help ensure KMT and PFP unity.
Does KMT/PFP cooperation require that the People First Party disappear? That is something the KMT must consider. After all, the People First Party is no longer the party it was in 2000. After Lien and Soong united, the People First Party spontaneously dissolved within four or five years. It is definitely not as strong as it was back then. James Soong wants the People First Party to once again raise its banners. But he wants to nominate only ten candidates to the legislature. If the KMT and the PFP apportion their seats appropriately, they may be able to maximize their advantage. They may be able to complement each other. The biggest fear is that the two sides may begin trading potshots and insults, Blue Camp supporters would be dismayed. Their enthusiasm would be dampened -- to the point where they could not be bothered to vote. That would truly be a case of hurting the ones you love. That would truly be a case of penny wise and pound foolish.