United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 8, 2016
Executive Summary: The Tsai government is in chaos. This provides the KMT with an opportunity to accelerate blue camp transformation. The KMT must offer a forward-looking vision. It must boldly take a stand on behalf of the Taiwan public. It must offer constructive alternatives to DPP policy in order to win public support. Internally, comrades who take the revitalization of the blue camp seriously, must forsake selfishness and be more willing to consider the Big Picture. Hung Shiu-chu must keep an open mind. Only then will people of talent and constructive suggestions come pouring in.
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Under the color of the "Articles for the Disposal of Illicit Party Assets", financial institutions have ceased lending funds to the KMT. This has exerted tremendous pressure on the party. The KMT Central Committee has suspended monthly retirement benefits and 18% interest payments. It has been forced to make spending cuts, and adopt a whoe range of austerity measures. Almost all of these have been passive responses to events swirling around it. Following its election debacle, the KMT appears to have lost all drive and direction.
Consider Chairman Hung Shiu-chu's substantial changes to the party's Central Committee. She scored election victories in Hualien City, Tianwei Township, and several other locales. She has officially incorporated the Cross-Strait Peace Agreement into the KMT party platform. These are all positive moves. But the impact of these, both politically and socially, is relatively small. Put simply, these moves are not enough to attract outside attention. Nor are they enough to unify the party from within, never mind revive blue camp morale.
The new government has failed to win peoples' hearts and minds. This provided the KMT a golden opportunity to demonstrate oversight, insight, and tolerance in its role as the political opposition. Unfortunately the KMT dwelt exclusively on its own persecution. It harped on party assets instead of hardships endured by the nation as a whole. The manner in which it expressed itself, with complaints, sarcasm, and bad-mouthing, has not won public sympathy. Therefore the new government's failure to win public support has not led to a corresponding rise in support for the KMT. The KMT has failed to transcend its old stereotypes. It has not given people the impression of change.
Looking forward, the KMT faces three major obstacles. It must overcome these obstacles if the blue camp is to have a real chance at transformation and rebirth. If it busies itself with trivialities, with a war of words and merely goes through the motions, it will not be able to revive itself.
The first of the KMT's three major obstacles, is the lack of an internal party line. Next year's party chairmanship election will apparently be contested only by Hung Shiu-chu and Wu Den-yih. That is not a good sign. Wu and Hung each have their strenghts and weaknesses. But neither has offered a vision for the party attractive enough to inspire the public. Meanwhile, rival party factions are covertly mobilizing. The battle is bound to form along "nativist" and "non-nativist" lines. It amounts to another round in the unfinished battle between Hung and Wu over the party chairmanship earlier this year. If the chairmanship election leads to increased divisions within the party, it will be obtuse beyond belief.
The second major obstacle the KMT faces, is the 2018 county and municipal elections. When Eric Chu was chairman, he demanded that six legislators without portfolio resign after serving only two years, and even sign agreements to that effect. But Hung Shiu-chu apparently has no intention of meekly complying with rules laid down by Eric Chu. She proposed an alternative -- a pre-selection system to nominate more newcomers. In fact, both models have their limitations. The biggest problem is that new or old, there are no strong candidates to be found. So how can the KMT have any winners? The KMT Central Committee must be more aggressive. It must help candidates with potential establish public images. It must provide them with election opportunities. Merely waiting for candidates to emerge from normal work processes, offers little chance of victory.
The third major obstacle the KMT faces, is letting go of its party assets. KMT party assets have become a major political burden. The KMT should use the opportunity to relieve itself of this burden once and for all. It should conduct a thorough inventory of party management and staff. This would help accelerate the downsizing and restructuring of the party. This should be regarded as a blessing in disguise. A party that dwells on the past, that continues to support seven to eight hundred party workers and thousands of retired party workers, can only rest on its laurels. It has no prospects for the future. Currently only Vice Chairman Tsan Chi-hsian has expressed a desire to put an end to this. Others remain filled with resentment. But that only makes it more difficult for the party to make a new beginning. In reality, the KMT must cease defending and start attacking. It must let go of resentments over party assets. It must turn the tables on the DPP, and attack its extortionate and illegal expropriation of public assets. It must demand that party assets be used for public welfare. Only then will divesting itself of its party assets acrue to its own favor, and polish its own public image. Only then can it effectively combat DPP demands for party assets, and force the DPP to abide by the law.
The Tsai government is in chaos. This provides the KMT with an opportunity to accelerate blue camp transformation. The KMT must offer a forward-looking vision. It must boldly take a stand on behalf of the Taiwan public. It must offer constructive alternatives to DPP policy in order to win public support. Internally, comrades who take the revitalization of the blue camp seriously, must forsake selfishness and be more willing to consider the Big Picture. Hung Shiu-chu must keep an open mind. Only then will people of talent and constructive suggestions come pouring in.