Hung Hsiu-chu: Firm Up Support in South Before Visiting Washington
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 24, 2015
Executive Summary: Hung Hsiu-chu will be representing the KMT in the 2016 general election,
pending ratification during next month's KMT party congress. Meanwhile,
issues such as organizational deployment, campaign strategy, intraparty
harmony, whether to visit the US, and the coat tails effect, have
followed one after another. Criticism by rivals and pundits has
intensified. Under the circumstances, visiting the US should not be Hung
Hsiu-chu's first priority. Her first priority should be planning her
campaign strategy and cultivating voter support south of the Cho-shui
Full Text Below:
Hung Hsiu-chu will be representing the KMT in the 2016 general election, pending ratification during next month's KMT party congress. Meanwhile, issues such as organizational deployment, campaign strategy, intraparty harmony, whether to visit the US, and the coat tails effect, have followed one after another. Criticism by rivals and pundits has intensified. Under the circumstances, visiting the US should not be Hung Hsiu-chu's first priority. Her first priority should be planning her campaign strategy and cultivating voter support south of the Cho-shui Creek.
In 2011, Tsai Ing-wen took part in the presidential election. Having served as party chairman, vice president, and MAC chairperson, she had a good understanding of public policy and felt very much at home. By contrast, Hung Hsiu-chu has just stepped on her path to the presidency. Her policy platform has yet to be sorted out. She has yet to develop contacts and increase her local level exposure. Not surprisingly, the Hung campaign is still somewhat disorganized. Can she get up to speed, get in step, and make up for her deficiencies, ASAP? That is the question.
Hung Hsiu-chu got a late start. She is also a dark horse. Therefore she cannot wage a conventional trench warfare campaign like those waged in the past by Lien Chan or Ma Ying-jeou. She must rely on guerrilla tactics to succeed. Tsai Ing-wen sees herself as a shoo-in. She hopes to coast to victory, merely through rote repetition of her policy rhetoric. Her demeanor is smug. She goes through the motions. She even contradicts herself. She leaves people with the impression she is a "virtual candidate" who is not quite real. The Hung camp should exploit these green camp inconsistencies. The Hung camp should give the Tsai camp a sharp slap in the face. If the Hung camp can show how weak "Content Free Tsai" really is, it should be able to rapidly make inroads.
Alas, guerrilla warfare has never been the KMT's strong suit. The blue camp has long been inept at such offensive and defensive tactics. It is conservative, bland, and self-destructive. Therefore responsibility for carrying out these tasks must not be turned over to traditional KMT think tanks, or party leaders. Instead they must be entrusted to the "best and brightest" minds outside traditional channels. Only then can they expose the green camp's lack of substance. In short, Hung Hsiu-chu is an unorthodox candidate. To break out in the six months remaining, she must adopt unorthodox tactics. She must be neither too rigid nor too scattered. The think tanks should play a supplementary role, by providing flanking support. They must not become the masters.
Hung Hsiu-chu qualified as a primary candidate with flying colors. This dark horse candidate restored blue camp morale. Unfortunately over the past week, she has encountered considerable resistance within her own party. There has been much grinding of gears. She was probably speaking her mind when she said that if Wang Jin-pyng wants to return to the Legislative Yuan he should run for office at the district level. But her comment was a bit too blunt, and somewhat out of bounds. It was also not conducive to any prospective Hung/Wang ticket. Should Hung visit the US? That is something she should have discussed with the party leadership, then arrived at a decision. She did not need to publicly inform Eric Chu "I will arrive at my own decision on that". Even if she disagreed with the party leadership's arrangements, there was no need to leave outsiders with the impression of intraparty friction.
A greater challenge for Hung Hsiu-chu involves her policy path. Is it pluralistic enough to win the support of the greatest number of voters? She is currently well positioned on cross-Strait and economic and energy policies. Her positions on these have attracted support from traditional blue camp voters. Her frank and straightforward manner also demonstrates an intensity traditionally lacking in blue camp leaders. But once she has consolidated her support among deep blue voters, she must win the support of pale blue and swing voters. She must win the support of younger voters. Hung Hsiu-chu must offer greater diversity and creativity. She must prove she is able to lead Taiwan towards a sounder, brighter future. She must not dwell on only a few key points.
In fact, Hung Hsiu-chu's family was a victim of the White Terror. It was classified as a "category four impoverished household". Her gradual rise to her current stature, is a Horatio Alger success story. It symbolizes political reconciliation and renunciation of hate. This is something she can dwell on more. The green camp is constantly attempting to use McCarthyite tactics against her. It has even resorted to claims that "A vote for Hung Hsiu-chu is a vote for Xi Jinping". This reveals the harsh political climate on Taiwan. It shows that the Hung camp must emphasize strategic balance. It must not allow itself to be pinned down on any single issue.
Tsai Ing-wen visited the United States because her cross-Strait policy path could not be trusted. That made her "job interview" with Washington essential. Hung Hsiu-chu does not have this problem. Tsai Ing-wen has just concluded her visit to the US. Hung Hsiu-chu has no need to make such a trip. It would not help her election campaign, unless of course the US accorded her an even more lavish reception. Hung Hsiu-chu should now concentrate on her domestic campaign, especially in central and southern Taiwan, where the blue camp needs an election boost. She can create a coat tails effect. She can win local KMT party trust. She can allow her "little pepper" charisma work its charm in central and southern Taiwan.
Election campaigns are complex and multi-faceted undertakings. Hung Hsiu-chu must know how to form alliances and how to launch attacks. Her vision need not be confined to a single corner of the room. She need not offend others with her statements. She must now go south, past Cho-shui Creek, and consolidate her support in central and southern Taiwan. If afterwards, she still has enough energy leftover, it will not be too late to talk about visiting the United States.
2015-06-24 02:11:41 聯合報 聯合報社論