Fri, Jan 28, 2000 - Page 12 News List

Why should Lee give up control of the KMT?

By Chou Tien-Jui

According to many media reports, supporters of KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰) hope President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) will give up the party chairmanship before his term is up.

Various signs appear to indicate that Lien is inclined to accept the idea. But even if Lien's camp has such a proposal in mind, it is not clear what Lien himself is really thinking.

However, even if Lien has thought of it, now is not the time for him to make his intention known to the public.

There are various reasons why the KMT's Lien-Siew ticket has had such a lackluster showing in the polls.

Some analysts think a primary reason is that Lien cannot escape from Lee's shadow.

Furthermore, many of Lee's recent speeches are perceived as being beneficial to Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), harmful to James Soong (宋楚瑜) and not helpful at all to Lien.

These speeches have provoked many complaints to Lee from Lien's camp.

Lien's supporters know how hard he has tried to increase his popularity. We can see the improvements he has made.

For example, he is showing more friendliness and naturalness when appearing in public and his public speaking skills have greatly improved.

Often accused of not understanding public opinion, he has tried to offer policies corresponding to the public's needs.

Normally, these positive changes would have boosted the popularity ratings of any candidate, but the results have been far from satisfactory in Lien's case.

In my opinion, Chen has benefited the most from the opinion polls. He has the image of a reformer and apparently no one will stand in his way when he implements reforms.

Lien has never been able to create a reformer image for himself. What makes it worse is that he has a backseat driver -- Lee.

Everyone has doubts about how much change Lien really could effect if he were to be elected.

Though feeling helpless, Lien's camp says things like "Lien Chan has his own opin-ions," or "if Lien Chan is elected, he will not be Lee Teng-hui's puppet."

They even say that Lien could be another Anwar Sadat, hoping to reassure the public about their man's determination to shake off Lee's influence.

But how can you ask others to believe something that has no guarantee of being true? Who would have such confidence?

Skeptics demand Lien demonstrate his own appeal and his own ideas right now, but it would appear that Lien lacks the guts to do so.

We might say the request is unfair, but it is not that unreasonable.

On the other hand, imagine that Lien suddenly loses his meekness and attacks Lee. Wouldn't this be rather awkward?

The votes he might win by doing so are probably less than those he might lose. The tactic is not feasible.

What would be the most beneficial to Lien is for Lee to quit the party chairmanship yet continue campaigning for his vice-president.

This is what Lien's camp wants most of all.

Is Lee willing to resign ahead of schedule? Don't think of how tightly Lee clings to his power, that is not the real worry.

What Lien's camp is really concerned about is that if Lee's resignation does not win votes for Lien, the KMT would not only lose their political power right away, but also lose an influential figure to organize the party.

Any smart person should understand that for Lee, whoever wins the election will be fine by him as long as it isn't Soong.

So why would he want to run such a huge risk of losing his power just to help Lien right now?

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