China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 18, 2015
Executive Summary: The chief justification for replacing Hung Hsiu-chu was her "one China, same interpretation" slogan. Many assumed it was beyond the Kuomintang pale. In fact, "one China, same interpretation" is not the least bit radical. It merely reduces the ambiguity within the 1992 consensus. Negative spin control has made current KMT cross-Strait policy little different from Tsai Ing-wen's.
Full Text Below:
The result of yesterday's KMT plenary session was no surprise. The vast majority of party representatives and Standing Committee members voted to replace Hung Hsiu-chu with Eric Chu as the Kuomintang's presidential candidate. Dissent within and without the venue did not change this fait accompli. Only now has the KMT finally decided on a candidate. It is now less than 100 days away from election day. Time is short. Can the KMT change its grim presidential prospects? Can it save its legislative campaign from imminent disaster? No one knows. But at least Eric Chu is finally assuming responsibility for the crisis.
Understandably, Hung Hsiu-chu, who was replaced in such an unseemly manner, is indignant with her unjust treatment. She was nominated through proper channels, in strict accordance with the party's nominating procedure. Denied support from party comrades, she campaigned alone for months. Yet today, in flagrant violation of the party's own procedures, she has been summarily replaced. She has been denied any opportunity to present her campaign platform in public debate. Naturally she feels aggrieved. What is most admirable about her however, is that despite the revocation of her candidacy, she held the moral high ground in her public statement.
For Hung Hsiu-chu, the battle is over. She fought the good fight. When not a single candidate from the most powerful KMT factions refused to step up to the plate, Hung chose to do battle for the party. She participated in the party primaries. She tackled every challenge. Step by step, she championed her political views. The party provided her scant support and few resources. She failed to generate much momentum. But her sincerity and devotion touched the hearts of many. Now, concerned for the bigger picture, she has stood down with grace, leaving behind a highly favorable personal image.
The question now is, how will Eric Chu proceed. He knows better than anyone else that the ideal time for him to enter the race has long passed. He initially had no intention of running. He campaigned on behalf of Hung Hsiu-chu repeatedly. Now however, he has replaced Hung to prevent a debacle in the legislative elections. This is a responsibility he cannot shirk as party chairman. Never mind that doing so is extremely unfair to Hung Hsiu-chu. All he can do now is assume a low profile and attempt to mollify Hung. Will replacing Hung reverse the KMT's fortunes in the legislative elections? That is hard to say. But Eric Chu has finally assumed responsibility.
Whether the KMT should have replaced Hung with Chu, is debatable. But all that can be done now is to set aside grievances, bury the hatchet, and unite under Eric Chu and the KMT Central Committee. The KMT must form a presentable election team ASAP. It must begin campaign mobilization. It must begin final stage campaigning. After all, less than 100 days remain until election day. The KMT has no time to worry about the past. It must fight the battle in front of it. The rest must wait until after the election.
The public supports peaceful cross-Strait relations. Eric Chu initially evaded responsibility. He then ruthlessly mistreated Hung Hsiu-chu. This is deeply repugnant. But so far the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen have refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus. In 2016 it is likely they will control both the presidency and the legislature. But this means they must be even more cautious. Taiwan needs a political party able to work with the Mainland and check the DPP. Faced with larger considerations as these, blue camp supporters must be willing to set aside their grievances and re-unite.
On core values and cross-Strait policy, differences exist within the KMT. The party's election procedures and personnel training approach have led to cliquism. This has created a serious brain drain among young people and grass-roots level cadres. These problems must be thoroughly reviewed following the elections, regardless of the final outcome.
The KMT also has structural problems. First, the party “A Listers” were reluctant to enter the race. Party “B Listers” such as Hung Hsiu-chu and Yang Chi-liang collected signatures in strict accordance with party primary requirements. Who knew that with the exception of the Huang Fu-shing party faction, the Kuomintang was merely an empty shell? The party re-registration procedure held a few years ago was an empty gesture. It failed to lead to a presentable party membership roster. The result lacked any organizational structure whatsoever.
Even more serious is the KMT's disconnect with society. The party nomination process has resulted in candidates arbitrarily being replaced at whim. Unless the procedure is revised, the Kuomintang's “intra-party democracy” will remain a joke. The candidate generated by the KMT nomination process for Taipei Mayor during the nine in one elections failed even to win the support of diehard loyalists. This shows how out of touch the KMT's nomination process is from society.
The chief justification for replacing Hung Hsiu-chu was her "one China, same interpretation" slogan. Many assumed it was beyond the Kuomintang pale. In fact, "one China, same interpretation" is not the least bit radical. It merely reduces the ambiguity within the 1992 consensus. Negative spin control has made current KMT cross-Strait policy little different from Tsai Ing-wen's.
President Ma's "no unification, no independence, no use of force" cross-Strait policy, based on the 1992 consensus, has served its purpose. Cross-Strait relations now traverse deeper waters. The 1992 consensus must be taken further. If the KMT refuses to accept "one China, same interpretation”, how can the KMT take the 1992 consensus further? The DPP advocates "maintaining the status quo". The KMT must clarify its position, and build consensus within the party.