Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 8 News List

KMT stifles talent with a host of old cronies

By Wang Chien-chuang 王健壯

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) debated [the referendum issue], while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) took over the leadership of the New Tide (新潮流) faction. These two originally unrelated events had something in common: both Lin and Tuan are "fifth graders" (五年級) who were born in the 50s of the ROC year count (1961 to 1970), and belong to the student movement generation.

The DPP is led by the baby boom generation (1946 to 1964) today, but those from the student movement generation are almost everywhere. Their active participation can be seen from the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, the ruling party, and the Legislative Yuan to local governments and councils. They are undoubtedly both the DPP's and Taiwan's heirs.

But looking back at the blue camp, most party leaders belong to the pre-baby boom generation, and most opposition legislators and councilors belong to the baby boom generation. Only a few of them are about the same age as Lin, 39, Tuan, 40, or DPP Legislator and Department of Youth Development Director Lo Wen-chia (羅文嘉), 37, and they play insignificant roles in the power relations.

Politics is considered a business of people. Political parties compete with one another in both the quality and quantity of talent. Ever since the DPP came to power, it has made many mistakes due to a lack of administrative talent. But those from the student movement generation who have already distinguished themselves will certainly become the DPP's future administrative assets.

Even if the blue camp resumes power next year, it's imaginable that those who were born before and during the baby boom generation will still take control of the government. Thus, it's impossible for "fifth graders" (aged between 33 and 42 at present) to come forward. They can only take over higher posts after their seniors step down one after another according to the feudal tradition of seniority.

The opposition camp has not had many posts to cultivate young talent over the past few years. But it failed to cultivate young talent even during the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) rule in the past. More ironically, the KMT always vows to cultivate young talent after losing an election, but it's all talk and no show. Take Taipei County, for example: the DPP has been at the helm for nearly 16 years. However, the KMT has never cultivated any young talent for the commissioner's seat in these years. Obviously, cultivating young talent is merely empty talk.

It's impossible for an aged party to transform itself into a youthful one by pretending to be young, or decorating a few young faces in its power structure. The only way is a power handover. Older politicians have to cede their power to younger ones. The handover should not be carried out step by step -- a complete change is necessary. It can be called a handover only when the pre-baby boom generation completely steps down, while a mixed leadership is formed by the baby boom generation and the student movement generation.

The KMT's efforts to make the party younger are in fact more than 10 years late compared to those of the DPP. The decade-long gap is so large that the blue camp can hardly catch up. Its future potential cannot compare with that of the DPP. If the blue camp's "old revolutionaries" are still in charge after next year's presidential election -- whether it wins back power or not -- the blue camp will not only become a political alliance that has no future, but also be destined to become passe.

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