Thursday, April 7, 2016

Can Hung Shiu-chu Rehabilitate the KMT?

Can Hung Shiu-chu Rehabilitate the KMT?
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 8, 2016

Executive Summary: The KMT is in dire straits. The party is riven by factionalism. Controversy rages over its future path. Public support is plummeting. Can Hung Shiu-chu overcome personal likes and dislikes, and reunify the party? Can she rally the blue camp, shatter the party's monopolistic structure, enable full participation, and get the party back on course? Judging from Hung Shiu-chu's initial moves, there is reason for concern.

Full Text Below:

The KMT is in dire straits. The party is riven by factionalism. Controversy rages over its future path. Public support is plummeting. Can Hung Shiu-chu overcome personal likes and dislikes, and reunify the party? Can she rally the blue camp, shatter the party's monopolistic structure, enable full participation, and get the party back on course? Judging from Hung Shiu-chu's initial moves, there is reason for concern.

Only 16% of party members voted in the party chairmanship election, far less than the 51% who voted in 2008 following the defeat of the DPP. On the other hand, Hung Shiu-chu received zero support from the party machinery, yet still received 56.16% of the vote. Therefore this can still be seen as a sign of party unity.

This "low turnout, high percentage" voting phenomenon, means the KMT has lost public support across the board. Just how many party members remain? That is undoubtedly the KMT's most serious problem.

Political power is eroding the world over. Support for politicians and political parties ebb and flow rapidly. Therefore a crisis can also constitute an opportunity. Can Hung Shiu-chu boost supporters' morale during her first one hundred days? Can she unify the party and achieve interparty pan blue cooperation? If she can, then the KMT may settle down and become a force to check the ruling DPP and regain public support.

Hung Shiu-chu is already party chairman. But political action requires real power, not just a title. To command people, both inside and outside the party, Hung cannot rely on her reputation as “Little Pepper”, a legislator with a sharp tongue. To begin with, she bring her own team members under control. She must solicit opinions from others within her own party. She must embark on a fact finding mission, consulting elders inside and outside her party, and seeking their support.

The People First Party shares the KMT's political roots. The KMT must cooperate with the PFP in the Legislative Yuan. It may even need to coordinate political campaigns during election season. Hung Shiu-chu must seize the initiative. She must reach out to James Soong and seek cooperation. Only then can she check the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. The New Party has long been the KMT's most loyal ally. Before the election, New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming even considered merging the New Party back into the KMT, and floated this idea to New Party members. The KMT is no longer the ruling party. Now only KMT, NP, and PFP cooperation can check the power of the DPP.

Next, Hung must close the gap between north and south. She must not permit nativists and deep blues to make political hay from their differences. She must coordinate the activities of party legislators. She must propose different legislation for different regions. Legislative caucus unity will be essential for any number of purposes. These include rehabilitating the party's image, cross-strait relations, economic and social welfare legislation. Hung must also deal with the green camp's "Articles for the Disposal of Improper Party Assets" and other legislation pertaining to "transitional justice". Party caucus unity will be essential.

KMT legislators must face difficulties together with the Party Central Committee. They must no longer go their own way, only to be defeated individually. The KMT must concentrate its efforts on specific issues during the new session. When the ruling and opposition parties clash, the KMT must convey a new image. In particular, the KMT must respect the autonomy of the legislative caucus. Chairman Hung was an outstanding former Deputy Speaker of the Legislature. She will successfully fulfill the role of the loyal opposition during Legislative Yuan clashes, and exhibit high standards of conduct.

Hung Shiu-chu must swiftly draft a new KMT cross-Strait policy. She must address issues the KMT has been criticized for overlooking in the past. The CCP and DPP have yet to establish channels of communication. This makes the KMT's role even more important. She must renew channels of communication between the KMT and CCP. KMT-CCP for a must continue. But the format must be changed. Voices from the grassroots on Taiwan must become part of the CCP's decision-making process.

Hung has chosen to define cross-Strait relations, by reaffirming the Republic of China Constitution. This is both sustainable and correct. It will enable Taipei to dialogue with Beijing on the basis of the Ma Xi summit, in Taiwan's best interests. This will be essential to rebuilding public trust in KMT cross-Strait policy.

Hung Shiu-chu should recruit large numbers of outgoing legislators and officials for party posts. Think tanks should absorb outgoing political appointees, including Premier Chang San-cheng. They should form a shadow cabinet that will provide professional assistance to KMT legislators.

The KMT has lost the youth vote. Hung Shiu-chu must form a new youth activities division. Party policy must address matters of concern to the Internet generation. They must move young people. The KMT must take the lead. It must address topics such as youth entrepreneurship and the arts. It must narrow the gap between itself and other political parties. It must respond to grassroots opinion. The KMT Party Central Committee must have the courage to address the often controversial issue of party member voting. Party official nominations should be based on the results of public referendums. This will ensure that potential candidates are closer to the grassroots. Only drawing talent from the grassroots can revive the KMT.

The KMT is a century old political party. Over time it has accumulated a negative image. It carries more historical baggage than other political parties. Hung Shiu-chu cannot achieve much in the short term. But she must focus on the election two years from now. She must respond in advance. She must reorder the party's policies and decision-making processes. The Legislative Yuan must become the party's main battlefield. That is where it must cultivate new talent. Many challenges confront this century old political party. Hung Shiu-chu's task has just begun.

20160408 中國時報














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