Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ma Ying-jeou's Deference toward Lee Teng-hui

Ma Ying-jeou's Deference toward Lee Teng-hui
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
July 4, 2007

Pan Green political cartoon: Ma Ying-jeou: "I am a New Taiwanese. I am taking President Lee Teng-hui's path of democratic reform."

Comment: The following China Times editorial is the worst I have read yet. That's saying a lot. Every point it makes is dead wrong.

By all means read it, but only as an example of what not to do. To arrive at the truth, return the inverted logic of this editorial to its normal, upright position.

In case you're wondering, this kind strategic surrender for tactical gain, is why the current crop of Pan Blue "leaders" are losing ground to the Pan Greens, despite a global strategic scenario squarely in the Pan Blue camp's favor.

In late 2004 and 2005, the Pan Blue camp experienced a "Reversal of Fortune," due in part to Lien Chan's farsighted "
Journey of Peace" to Beijing.

Lien Chan's hard-won gains are now being frittered away by an irresolute and incompetent Ma Ying-jeou, who has been pandering to Pan Green "ben tu" nativism and Taiwan independence Political Correctness,
lending them an undeserved air of legitimacy, and giving the DPP an unearned political boost.

Ma Ying-jeou's Deference toward Lee Teng-hui
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 4, 2007

If during the Lien Chan era, the Kuomintang (KMT) healed the divisions left by the departure of the New Party and James Soong, then during the current Ma Ying-jeou era, the KMT is making an effort to heal the divisions left by the departure of Lee Teng-hui. Lien Chan used the Lien/Soong ticket to emerge from Lee Teng-hui's shadow. Ma Ying-jeou is using continual "Deference to Lee" to break out of Lien Chan's framework. This is a process of healing divisions that highlights the bitter struggle of the KMT to redefine its limits during its years out of office.

The KMT as currently configured is a heterogeneous hodgepodge. This heterogeneity may be due to historical factors. It may have its origins in unique political arrangements, perhaps even in "an alliance of thieves." No matter what the reason might be, it has allowed one group of people within the KMT to defend the faith, while another group of people casts itself as a nativist faction. When Lee Teng-hui was in charge, this heterogeneity led to open conflict, and evolved into factional strife. It eventually led to the rapid departure of the New Party and James Soong, one after the other. It also led indirectly to the defeat of the Lien/Hsiao ticket in 2000 and to Lee Teng-hui's departure soon after. The KMT's heterogeneity has allowed it remain mired in ethnic group/factional/ideological confrontation and conflict. Any power struggles among high ranking party officials, are blown up by these contradictions and divisions. This has been the main theme of the KMT's internal struggles over the past decade.

Ma Ying-jeou is different from past KMT elites in that he has been attempting to transform the KMT's heterogeneity into an asset instead of a liability. The number of people within the KMT who can fufill this role are few and far between. At a time when the fires of factional strife rage within the KMT, Ma Ying-jeou has nearly always remained outside the circle of fire, unaffected. He has not sworn eternal hostility toward the other Princes and elites, especially those close to Lee Teng-hui. Compared to Lien/Soong, who were quick to differentiate themselves, he has been seeking mutual respect and dialog all the way. This may not lead to Lee Teng-hui publicly endorsing Ma Ying-jeou, but at least it may dilute the criticisms directed against him.

Is not difficult to see Ma Ying-jeou's strategy. His background and image allow him to totally ignore his Pan Blue constituency. He is clearly aware of his shortcomings. Therefore year after year he commemorates 228. He actively adopts nativist rhetoric. He revises the KMT party constitution to eliminate the reunification clause and to underscore "Taiwan." He chooses Vincent Siew as his running mate. On controversial topics he adopts an inclusivist position. And finally, he adopts a posture of "Deference towards Lee Teng-hui." How useful these concessions are remains to be seen. But at least many of the KMT's contradictions have already obtained relief. When even Ma Ying-jeou himself is cultivating a "nativist" image, then the Wang Jyn-ping camp's provincial origin or national identity rhetoric will lose its impact. Just as the Lien Chan camp will be unable to play on the issue of rank and seniority.

The year 2008 may offer an entirely new political scenario, or it may replicate 2004. If the 2004 election represented a Blue vs. Green scenario, then one of the litmus tests for 2008 will be who can succeed in transcending this basic pattern of opposition. who can seek understanding and dialogue with the opposite camp's voters. Consolidating one's core support is easy. But the price paid is high. The result is Blue vs. Green opposition. The result is there are no winners. If Frank Hsieh and Ma Ying-jeou replicate 2004, then what the future holds can already be seen.

In today's political atmosphere, if one wishes to transcend Blue vs. Green opposition, and attempt to seek reconciliation and dialogue, one needs greater courage. Such efforts may not lead to the development of a new political force, but they may diminish support for the two existing camps. Both Frank Hsieh and Ma Ying-jeou see this. Neither of them wants to replicate 2004. Both of them want reconciliation and dialogue. But both of them face constraints from within their own parties. Frank Hsieh has not yet recovered from his party primary birth pains. The Chen administration, the DPP legislative committee, and the DPP party hierarchy, each intend to be the one determining election strategy. When Hsieh can begin to wage his own campaign remains to be seen. Ma Ying-jeou's faces a backlash from Deep Blue forces. This backlash has already appeared. How powerful this backlash will be remains to be seen. What we can see is that between Hsieh and Ma, whoever is able to shrug off constraints from within his own party, will be the one who can transcend Blue vs. Green opposition in the future.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.07.04

如 果說,連戰時代的國民黨重新彌合了當年新黨與宋楚瑜出走的裂痕,那麼如今馬英九時代的國民黨,則是在致力彌合當年李登輝出走的陣痛。弔詭的是,連戰可說是 藉著「連宋合」完全走出李登輝的陰影,而馬英九則是藉著持續的「尊李」,逐漸走出連戰所設定的框架,這個從裂分到彌合過程,生動刻畫了國民黨在野的這幾 年,尋求重新自我界定的苦澀與掙扎。

換個角度說吧,現行國民黨的組成本來就是個異質性很高的大雜燴。這種異質性格或許源於歷史因素,或許 源於特殊的政治安排,甚或源於利益分贓的結盟,不論基於什麼因素,它讓國民黨內永遠有一批人以維持正統為職志,也同樣有一批人自居為本土派。李登輝主政時 這種異質性格一度釀成公開的衝突,並演成流派對抗,終致造成新黨、宋楚瑜的陸續出走,也間接造成稍後連蕭配的敗選,最後連李登輝都選擇出走。也可以說,國 民黨的這種異質性格,讓它永遠陷於族群/流派/路線的矛盾與糾葛當中,而任何高層精英間的權力衝突,都可藉由這種矛盾的切割與分化加以擴大,而這也正是國 民黨過去十數年內部鬥爭的主調。

馬英九不同於過去國民黨精英的地方在於,他一直嘗試將國民黨的這種異質性格,轉化為整合的資產,而不是分 化的槓桿。耐人尋味的地方也在這裡,國民黨內部還能扮演這種角色的人,已經不多了!在國民黨派系傾軋最熾烈的年代中,馬英九幾乎都置身烽火圈外未受波及, 因而他與所有天王精英都沒有誓不兩立的恩怨,特別是他與李登輝的關係,相較於連宋的急於切割,他卻是一路尋求尊重與對話,這種操作或許並不能讓李登輝再站 出來公開挺馬英九,但至少可以化解李登輝屆時批他的力道。

從這裡也不難看出馬英九的戰略,他的出身與形象,讓他可以完全不必再去經營泛藍 這個版塊,他也非常清楚知道自己的不足,所以他年年參與紀念二二八、積極發展本土論述、修改黨章去統加註台灣、選擇蕭萬長擔任副手、在許多爭議性的議題上 採取更包容的立場,到最後更擺出「尊李」到底的立場,這一切的作為究竟能發揮出多少成效或許尚待評估,但至少國民黨既有的諸多矛盾與張力,已經獲得紓解。 換言之,當馬英九自己都在往本土派的形象經營,那麼過去王金平系統人馬所操作的省籍或認同議題將很難再發揮作用,同樣的連戰系統人馬也將漸漸無法再搬弄什 麼「輩分倫理」的話題了。

不諱言說,展望明年的二○○八,是可以有一番全新的競爭局面,但也可以整套複製二○○四的戲碼。假如二○○四年 大選所標誌的是藍綠基本盤的對決,那麼面對二○○八年大選的重大考驗之一,就是誰能成功的跨越這種基本盤對決的模式,向對方陣營的選民尋求理解與對話。要 知道,鞏固基本盤的操作最簡單,但所付出的代價也最直接,我們過去幾年在台灣所見證的經驗,就是藍綠基本盤對決的結果。而這個結果很清楚就是沒有誰會是贏 家。如果謝長廷與馬英九還想複製二○○四年的模式,那麼未來幾年會是什麼景況,現在就已經可以預見了。

在現時的政治氛圍下,若要選擇超越 基本盤,嘗試尋求和解與對話,反而需要更多的勇氣。畢竟這種努力不一定能開發出新的支持力量,卻很可能造成既有基本盤的流失,這一點相信不論謝長廷或是馬 英九都了然於胸。但看得出來他們兩人都不想再複製基本盤對立模式,也都想採取某種和解與對話的模式,但他們也都面臨黨內某種程度的牽制,謝長廷尚未完全從 初選的陣痛中走出來,府院黨也都擺出有意主導選戰走向的意圖,他何時能啟動完全屬於他自己的選戰還有待觀察。而馬英九的考驗則是面臨深藍力量的反彈,目前 這種反彈已經出現,能有多大力道也尚待觀察。但至少我們目前可以選擇的一種觀察角度是:謝馬兩人誰能有效擺脫黨內基本盤的牽制,誰也就能在未來超越基本盤 的對決模式。

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