United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 30, 2015
Executive Summary: The KMT has yet again sought refuge in the past. For this, we feel sad. But if the Better Tomorrow promised by the Democratic Progressive Party fails to materialize, the disappointment will be even more unimaginable.
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The KMT Central Standing Committee has amended the "Speaker Clause". It has custom tailored the clause to enable Wang Jin-pyng to remain a Legislator without Portfolio for Life. This comes on the heels of the KMT's forcible ousting of Hung Hsiu-chu as KMT presidential candidate, and her replacement with Eric Chu. The KMT has yet again bowed to electoral realpolitik. The move may have been necessary to avoid a debacle in the upcoming general election. But how did the KMT get itself into this mess in the first place? The answer is simple: party leadership myopia. All that these leaders see is the ground one foot in front of their feet. They fail to see the big picture. They fail to achieve a bird's eye perspective. The result is they constantly misjudge the situation, and are constantly forced to retreat.
Unforunately as of late, the KMT has been retreating into the past. Example One. Eric Chu announced in May that he would not run for president. Had he not done so, his election prospects would be vastly better than they are today. Party morale would be as well. Local party candidates would not be as tempted as they are to defect. The party would not be on the verge of a catastrophic rout. Alas, Eric Chu saw the light five months late. Only then did he step forward. By then he had already missed his window of opportunity. Even worse, he had to take heat for trampling the KMT's nomination process into the dust.
Example Two. Had Wang Jing-pyng announced his candidacy for the party's presidential primaries in May, he might have fulfilled his long-cherished dream of reaching the political summit. B-Lister Hung Hsiu-chu would not have felt compelled to step forward, only to be unceremoniously ousted and replaced. Wang missed his opportunity to run for president. He is eligible to run for legislator without porfolio. But the KMT custom tailored its rules just for him, provoking a backlash within the party. KMT morale has suffered. The party's chances in the legislative election have diminished. The likelihood that Wang Jin-pyng can reclaim his previous position as Speaker of the Legislature has also diminished. The deficits clearly outweigh any benefits.
Example Three. President Ma's power transfer was piecemeal. Had it been more comprehensive, the ruling party would have been bequeathed more substantial policy and personnel legacy. The nine in one election debacle last year might not have taken place. Eric Chu might not have felt compelled to seek a second term as New Taipei Mayor, to promise to remain for the full duration of his term. This year's party nomination fiasco might have been avoided. For eight years, the Ma government refused to groom its successors. Not one Ma administration official had the guts to defend adminstration policy. At election time however, they suddenly began running around like Chicken Little. The Ma administration's hiring practices made the above abundantly clear. Now Ma Ying-jeou cannot prevent Wang Jin-pyng from seeking to become a legislator without portfolio. Eric Chu has been relentlessly blasting Ma government policy. If not for selfishness yesterday, would KMT leaders be distancing themselves from each other today?
Go back five months. Opportunities and legitimacy were lost. Go back one year. Wang Jin-pyng could have run as legislator on his own. Go back eight years. Ma Ying-jeou refused to defend his own administration's policies. He backed down repeatedly. As a result of inside and outside pressure, his eight year legacy may be lost. For the KMT, this is a tragedy. It ruled for eight years. It endured bitter struggles. Alas it lacked the political finesse required to fulfill its ideals. In the end, the only thing it could do, was to bow before harsh reality.
Consider the matter from another angle. The KMT sees retreating to the past a necessary compromise to cope with current realities. It may be right. Perhaps this is only way it can start over again. But the KMT must learn from past mistakes. It must consider long-term growth and the big picture, not merely selfish interest and short term advantage. Otherwise, even if the party wins, the people will lose. Tsai Ing-wen's current campaign is a cakewalk, thanks to the KMT's internal disarray. Without firing a shot, the DPP has gained the upper hand. Many blue camp supporters are still obssessing over the Ma vs. Wang power struggle. They are fighting over nothing.
The KMT has repeatedly retreated into the past. But one must also be wary of the other extreme, the DPP's perennial and imaginary "Better Tomorrow".
The Democratic Progressive Party has changed its leader. It is now led by Tsai Ing-wen. The party is currently the beneficiary of a favorable political climate. But otherwise, it is almost exactly the same as it was eight years ago. The green camp has undergone no fundamental change in thinking or rhetoric over the past eight years. It has not conducted an analysis of Taiwan's current plight. It has not offered any solutions to Taiwan's current problems. Taiwan continues to wander down blind alleys. It continues to run into the same political and economic obstacles. Expecting a new ruling party to suddenly see the light, is far too optimistic.
Promising a Better Tomorrow is easy. The Democratic Progressive Party's election prospects are bright. This is primarily the work of Hong Chung-chiu, the Sunflower Student Movement, opponents of the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant, and opponents to history curriculum revision. Successive political movements have induced the younger generation to hate China, to hate Ma, and become pro-green. They brim over with "love for Taiwan". But their narrow-minded emotionalism will not help Taiwan. Tsai Ing-wen has cites a list of concerns. They include cross-Strait relations, industrial restructuring, pension reform, housing and social justice, care for the underprivileged, an aging population, and joining the TPP. But has anyone heard a considered solution? Criticising the ruling KMT is easy. But offering effective remedies is difficult. It requires know how. Absent any debate, we see no evidence of such wisdom inside the DPP.
The KMT has yet again sought refuge in the past. For this, we feel sad. But if the Better Tomorrow promised by the Democratic Progressive Party fails to materialize, the disappointment will be even more unimaginable.