Central Standing Committee Protocol Trivial, Loss of Party Cohesion Serious
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 5, 2012
Summary: The KMT Central Standing Committee is holding its by-elections. The process can only be described as depressing. Those elected are not jumping for joy. Those not elected are discouraged by their losses. Rumors that Ma supporters encountered obstruction from central and southern Taiwan officials turned out to be true. What is the significance of the new Standing Committee roster? It is difficult to tell.
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The KMT Central Standing Committee is holding its by-elections. The process can only be described as depressing. Those elected are not jumping for joy. Those not elected are discouraged by their losses. Rumors that Ma supporters encountered obstruction from central and southern Taiwan officials turned out to be true. What is the significance of the new Standing Committee roster? It is difficult to tell.
The Central Standing Committee is the highest authority within the KMT. But in recent years its importance has declined. President Ma Ying-jeou consults the Central Standing Committee less and less. Its role continues to shrink. It has become an arena for second-tier power struggles. Central Standing Committee by-elections have become pro forma rituals. Some of those unhappy with the party leadership use the Central Standing Committee by-elections to vent anti-Ma sentiment. They use it to give Ma Ying-jeou a hard time. This is not surprising.
Who is in and who is out within the Central Standing Committee? Which factions are operating behind the scenes and resorting to dirty tricks? That is not important. The KMT party machinery has become weaker under President Ma and Chairman Ma. This is the real problem. This is the most import factor in ruling vs. opposition party rivalry.
Politics on Taiwan is "winner-take-all." This is true whether the Blue camp or Green camp is in power. The levers of power end up in the hands of the ruling administration. The ruling party winds up playing the role of second fiddle, go-fer, and political machine. Chen Shui-bian's eight years in office and Ma Ying-jeou's four make this abundantly clear. Political power is real power. It calls the shots. When the party is in office, the party hierarchy is relegated to second fiddle. But it must not have the life squeezed out of it. The power of the party must be balanced against the power of the ruling administration. They must not become alienated from each other. Why not? Because rule is temporary. Ruling parties parties are eventually toppled. The party organization must endure. It must remain in operation. A political party must have a structural framework and a belief system. Otherwise its constitution will be weak. It will have a difficult time maintaining discipline. It will lacking fighting ability. That is inevitable.
Consider the weakening of the KMT Central Standing Committee. The candidates who participated in the by-election were indifferent. The roster lacked talent. This is clearly unhealthy. The reasons for this phenomenon are deep-rooted. The Blue camp has lost internal cohesion. The KMT Central Standing Committee leaders lack charisma. These are all important factors.
The DPP Central Standing Committee is a different story altogether. In July the DPP Central Standing Committee underwent reorganization. Factions engaged in bitter struggles. The major factions faced off with each other, determined to prevail. Contrast this with the KMT Central Standing Committee by-election. The difference was vast. The DPP brought together the elderly, the middle-aged, and the young. Attendees included party princes and faction leaders Frank Hsieh and Yu Shyi-kun. The meeting of the KMT Central Standing Committee was a far quieter affair. Discussions were for the most part mere formalities. Chairman Ma approved the proposals and got them out of the way. DPP Central Standing Committee meetings on the other hand are often live fire exercises. Chairman Su Tseng-chang often found himself overwhelmed.
Now look further ahead. Consider the differences between the Blue and Green Central Standing Committees. The problem involves more than mere atmosphere or visual impact. It is closely related to the party's thinking and action. The DPP Central Standing Committee has many grizzled veterans. They may make it difficult for Su Tseng-chang to act. But the Central Standing Committee also serves as a platform of intraparty political wrangling. By contrast the KMT Central Standing Committee is an empty shell. This may lead to blind spots in decision-making. Most people are unhappy with the KMT's performance. This shows the need for brainstorming to enhance decision-making and execution. But if the KMT Central Standing Committee is unable to function as a conduit for suggestions, how can the Blue camp regain the trust and support of the public?
During the Chiang Ching-kuo era, the KMT Central Standing Committee recruited the most forward thinking party and government officials. It was a decision-making platform both in name and in fact. Today the Central Standing Committee is a hollow shell. Every year it holds by-elections. But party members with real power don't even care enough to compete. This may be political evolution. The party and the government may be going their separate ways. But for a political party lacking in cohesion it should be a matter of concern. The party elite is depressed about the Central Standing Committee's performance. One can only imagine how discouraged party members are at the grassroots.
Every KMT Central Standing Committee decline should be a call to action. But consider the new Central Standing Committee members. Are they up to the task of reinvigorating the party? Many people are questioning the staying power of the Blue camp. Ma Ying-jeou appears to have no response. He appears to have interpreted all calls for soul-searching as "anti-Ma" sentiment. But if no action is taken in response to these voices, danger awaits.
2012.09.05 02:27 am