Lancing Abscesses: Wang Sing-nan and Ker Chien-ming
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 5, 2011
Tsai Ing-wen has pubished her wishlist of the "best" nominees for DPP legislators without portfolio. But it has provoked a string of confrontations within the party. The harshest confronation flared when Wang Sing-nan repeatedly criticized Ker Chien-ming's listing in the number two spot, despite his record of misconduct. Wang demanded that the Party Central Committee withdraw Ker's nomination. Ker Chien-ming meanwhile, accused Wang Sing-nan of selling his soul in a quest for power,
Wang Sing-nan's revolt, of course, represents growing discontent among pro-independence forces within the party. Wang listed Ker Chien-ming's many moral failings. They included his gambling, his ordering of government heads to intervene in public works projects, and his dealings with organized crime. Wang stressed that if the party failed to lance the "abscess" and drain out the "pus," the DPP would suffer "sepsis" and die. Ker Chien-ming meanwhile, argued that Trong Chai and Wang Sing-nan were at the bottom of the list for DPP legislators without portfolio, and that their combined age was 150. Ker was implying that the two men were too attached to the power of their offices, and were refusing to step down. Wang Sing-nan compared Ker Chien-ming to a pus filled abscess. Ker Chien-ming did the same with Wang Sing-nan. Tsai Ing-wen is now confronted with two abscesses. Which one will she lance?
On the surface Wang Sing-nan's attack was directed at Ker Chien-ming. But the real object of his attack was Tsai Ing-wen. Ker Chien-ming's image problem has been around for sometime. But he has always occupied a key position in the party, No one has had the courage to rock the boat. This reflects the two-faced character of the DPP. Tsai Ying-wen trumpets the party's clean image. Yet she designates Ker Chien-ming acting president. She also places him at the top of the list of male candidates for DPP legislators without portfolio. This reveals the two-faced character of the party. These under the table quid pro quos include inequities in the nomination process that lead to dissatisfaction among party members. They also lead inevitably to negative impressions in the public awareness.
In the nomination of legislators without portfolio, Tsai Ing-wen chose not to nominate Taiwan independence hardliners Trong Chai and Wang Sing-nan. She may be trying to underscore the party's youthification and move towards the middle. But Cheng Shu-hua, Ker Chien-ming, and other questionable individuals have appeared on the list of nominees. Add to this a powerful odor of factional quid pro pro deal-making, and one sees little evidence of her alleged commitment to reform and renewal. On the one hand, she refused to nominate Trong Chai and Wang Sing-nan, in order to lighten the party's Taiwan independence coloration. On the other hand, she showed deference for Lee Teng-hui and defended Chen Shui-bian. She clung tightly to the two Taiwan independence leaders. Such contradictory practices reveal just how overextended she is.
Wang Sing-nan pointed the finger at one particular abscess. But that is not the sole abscess Tsai Ing-wen must lance. Eight years under Chen Shui-bian left Taiwan with a particularly large abscess, Has the DPP lanced that one yet? Social divisions, economic stagnation, and an ideology above all atmosphere have left one abscess after another. Has the DPP lanced any of them yet? No it has not. Instead the DPP has covered them up. It thinks that if Tsai Ing-wen applies a little blemish covering over them, the abscesses will be "out of sight, out of mind." Lancing the abscess is too painful. It is better merely to cover it.
Can the party strike a balance between high ideals and reality? Political parties must constantly make adjustments in the pursuit of their goals. From worries the public is whether this ostensibly "democratic and progressive" party can be honest with itself. Wang Sing-nan cast himself as a DPP reformer, determined to "clean house." In fact, he merely underscored the fact that "the Emperor is naked." Even more surprisingly, the DPP leadership turned a deaf ear to him. DPP leaders who have long trumpeted their commitment to "fighting for Taiwan's democracy" uniformly fell silent. Perhaps they all agreed with Wang Sing-nan's suggestion about "selling one's soul?"
Can one discern the emergence of a new spirit from the list of nominees for DPP legislators without portoflio? Not likely. Party factions continue divvying the spoils. Party regulations continue to be trampled underfoot. Questionable politicians continue to occupy center stage. Unqualified middle aged district representatives continue to expect something for nothing. They squeezed out Wang Sing-nan, but kept Ker Chien-ming. They squeezed out Trong Chai, but kept Chen Shui-bian. They lanced this abscess, but not that. They lanced small ones, but not big ones. Shen Fu-hsiung lost a bet and had to sweep the floor in Yu Tien's home. This may have been amusing. But just exactly who is blind?
The confrontation between Ker Chien-ming and Wang Sing-nan was merely a hiccup in the nomination process for legislature without portfolio. But it exposed the most terrifying skeleton in the DPP's closet: the fact that the DPP cannot look itself in the mirror. As an opposition party, the DPP was remarkable in its ability to zero in on the KMT's weaknesses. It was eloquent. It was unstoppable. Armed a magnifying glass, microscope, and funhouse mirrors, it pursued the KMT relentlessly. . But now, having seen its own pus filled abscesses, it desperately hurries to cover them up. It rushes to its own defense. It knows it is sick, but it is afraid to swallow the bitter pills. From 2006, when the Chen family corruption scandals erupted, until now, no one has ever heard of the DPP utter a single word of remorse. How will it deal with problems such as Ker Chien-ming? Consider how it dealt with Taiwan independence. It eliminated spots for Wang Sing-nan and Trong Chai. Yet it reserved spots for Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui, two giant abscesses who advocate "one nation on each side." They are curing a cold, even as they ignore an abscess in the lungs.
What is this, if not political color blindness? A master at lancing other's abscesses, pretends not to see his own abscesses.