Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen Not Even Secure as Party Chairman: How Can She Run for President?

Tsai Ing-wen Not Even Secure as Party Chairman: How Can She Run for President?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 14, 2011

The roster of DPP nominees for legislator without portfolio has touched off a firestorm. Given the heat on Tsai Ing-wen at the moment, she is not even secure in her role as DPP chairman. In which case, how can she possibly take on the role of Republic of China president?

Tsai Ing-wen is in a pickle. Her television ad shows her ambling serenely through the streets of London, soaking in the atmosphere. It is totally at odds with her current plight. Her comrades in the party apparently consider her proclamation that "I am Taiwanese, I am Tsai Ing-wen" a tired cliche. A naked power struggle has erupted within the party, ignited by the roster of DPP nominees for legislator without portfolio.

Taiwan independence hardliners vehemently object to the current roster of DPP nominees. These hardliners include Wang Hsing-nan, Trong Chai, Tsai Yu-chuan, and Chen Shui-bian, who recently joined the fray. Tsai Ing-wen placed Wang Hsing-nan and Trong Chai at the bottom of the list, because they are aging Taiwan independence hardliners. Wang Hsing-nan was the chief suspect in the Hsieh Tung-min letter bomb case. Trong Chai is the perennial "Referendum Chai." Chai quite naturally thinks Tsai is attempting to burn his Taiwan independence bridges even before he has had a chance to cross them. These hardliners have criticized this roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio on numerous grounds. They say Cheng Shu-hua is a "counterfeit labor representative." They say Ker Chen-ming is guilty of misconduct. They say Hsiao Bi-khim and Cheng Li-chung are the chairman's obedient minions. They say the young and middle aged elites nominated have done nothing to deserve their inclusion on the roster. Tsai Yu-chuan even complained about people "sleeping with other men's wives." In other words, they consider the roster of nominees completely unjust. They feel it has elbowed aside these epoch-making Taiwan independence elders. Therefore they cannot possibly tolerate this outrage. Chen Shui-bian, who is new to the fray, pointed out the problem. He characterized the current roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio as "factions divvying up the spoils." He said "the chairman's minions should not be grabbing seats for themselves." He said Tsai Ing-wen should explicitly express opposition to ECFA. Otherwise, the TSU may draw away 5% of the party's vote.

Therefore, the controversy over the roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio, has become a knotted mess involving squabbling over spoils and disputes over the party's direction. Often what appears to be squabbling over spoils, turns out to be disputes over the party's direction. Conversely, what appears to be disputes over the party's direction, often turns out to be squabbling over spoils. Party members originally assumed that such squabbles and disputes could be postponed until after Tsai Ing-wen was elected. But the roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio provoked unexpected discontent. This open gun battle may subside temporarily as election fever mounts. But once the election is over, it will erupt once again. If Tsai wins her bid for the presidency, she faces more serious squabbles and disputes. If Tsai loses her bid for the presidency, the prospects are even more daunting.

What led to this situation? Tsai Ing-wen and many DPP insiders assumed they could set aside factional squabbles and disputes over the party's direction until after the election. But when Tsai Ing-wen was handed total control of the nomination process, she revealed her nepotist proclivities. She elbowed aside "aging hardliners." She brought back the Machievellian Ker Chien-ming. These were all precursors of post-election internecine struggles. On the one hand, Tsai Ing-wen attempted to rally Taiwan independence hardliners with her ringing proclamation that "I am Taiwanese." On the other hand, she purged Taiwan independence hardliners from the roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio. In the eyes of "aging hardliners" Wang Hsing-nan, Trong Chai, and Tsai Yu-chuan, this was intolerable. This was comparable to her acceptance of the 18% preferential interest rate for civil service employees, even as she denounced it.

Tsai Ing-wen wants first to be elected president, then to come back and resolve the power struggle and ideological struggle within the party. But the roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio turned out to be a Pandora's Box. For the good of the nation and the good of society, Tsai Ing-wen should first resolve the power struggle within the DPP. She should first unify the DPP, and broker an agreement on the party's direction. Only then should she run for President of the Republic of China. Otherwise, Tsai Ing-wen will be cradling a time bomb in her arms, one that could explode at any moment, while she runs for the nation's highest office. The entire nation would be dragged into DPP's messy power struggle. How can moderate voters possible tolerate that?

Ker Chien-ming held a press conference. He criticized Wang Hsing-nan and Trong Chai, saying that "Even the CCP's Central China Television Network would never attack their own comrades in such a manner." Wang Hsing-nan meanwhile demanded that the party leadership "keep dirty secrets" and "undermine the foundations of the party." One side railed against abscesses. The other side railed against filth. Both sides drew blood. Tsai Ing-wen must broker a peace within the party prior to the election. She must resolve the power struggle within the DPP. She must unify the DPP and broker an agreement on the party's direction. If no resolution is reached before the election, it will make no difference whether she wins or loses. The situation will become intolerable. For example, Chen Shui-bian has already stepped forward and taken a stand against ECFA. Can Tsai Ing-wen wait until after the election to respond?

Tsai Ing-wen's strategy is to deceive both sides, to deceive both moderate voters and DPP members regarding the party's direction. The roster of nominees for legislator without portfolio testifies to that. Tsai Ing-wen may be able to deceive moderate voters. But given her modest political momentum, she cannot possibly deceive the DPP about the party's direction. Nor can she hope to deceive Taiwan independence hardliners. She cannot benefit from the 18% preferential interest rate, even as she denounces it. If Tsai Ing-wen cannot even broker a peace within her own party over the allocation of power and the party's direction, how can she possibly become President of the Republic of China?

Tsai Ing-wen, are you really prepared?

【聯合報╱社論】 2011.07.14










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