Thu, Dec 26, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Young KMT hotshots may challenge the old

By Chin Heng-Wei 金恆煒

Seeing the triumphant and high-spirited KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) in his recent interviews with local media, one might be led to believe that he has emerged as the paramount leader of the pan-blue camp.

On the one hand, he completely ignored his political friends and allies. He spoke as if the PFP was the KMT's subordinate party devoid of any autonomy. He spoke as if the PFP must do whatever the KMT says in their proposed joint campaign in the 2004 presidential elections.

On the other hand, he no doubt demonstrated his overriding authority as the party chairman. There is no such thing as a "democratic process" within the party. Whether a KMT-KMT ticket -- in which both the presidential and vice presidential candidates are KMT members -- will be an option will be up to Lien alone. Not a word of objection will be uttered in the party.

But is this the real situation? Or is it some sort of "atmosphere" created by Lien in the media? Does the whole pan-blue camp really look up to Lien?

Is Lien the only person calling the shots within the KMT? If things were really under Lien's control as they seem to be, then fielding a pan-blue joint ticket would be as easy as a walk in the park. Why would the party need to wait until the Lunar New Year as Lien said?

Whether the PFP would be willing to put the fate of its chairman and the party itself in Lien's hands is questionable. Following Lien's interviews with the local media, PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄), who always plays the "bad cop" in cooperation between the two parties, immediately countered him with a statement that "cooperation between the two parties does not mean a merger."

Continuing with his tune of suppressing the KMT and lifting the PFP, Chang stressed the importance of a candidate's "personality" and of "recommending a joint presidential candidate who has ability and resolve." Speaking of ability and resolve, one would hardly think of Lien Chan.

The PFP wouldn't play second fiddle to the KMT, and a KMT-PFP ticket seems to be Lien's wishful thinking. Then what about the KMT-KMT ticket that Lien has ruled out?

Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) recently told reporters that he had been approached by several politicians from across party lines to push for a takeover by a younger generation of politicians in the 2004 presidential election. According to Hu, the undercurrent of a generational takeover has strong momentum and has prevailed among the younger generation of politicians.

If this is true, then Lien's position and authority in the KMT could be vulnerable. Lien's clique may have a firm grip on the party headquarters now, but the most ruthless and merciless power struggles often come from within.

From the outside, the PFP seems ready to take the reins anytime. From the inside, the younger generation of party elite do not shy away from their leadership ambitions. Even a master of political maneuvers might not survive such a difficult battle, much less Lien, who has suffered a string of political setbacks.

So is the present situation like the calm before the storm? The answer to this question is not as easy as setting off firecrackers during the Lunar New Year holidays.

Chin Heng-wei is editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine.

Translated by Wu Pei-shih

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