Wed, Jan 14, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The KMT are kings of divisiveness

A group called Ethnic Equality Action Alliance has suddenly appeared on Taiwan's political landscape. It was allegedly established on Monday by almost 100 people from cultural and academic circles and from social movements.

Representative figures from this group immediately launched an attack on the pan-green camp, accusing it of fomenting ethnic hostility more frequently than the pan-blue camp does. They said with a straight face that stronger ethnic groups are more inclined to bully weaker groups and to manipulate ethnic issues.

Such shallow discourse might deceive those who do not know Taiwan's history into believing that the ethnic Taiwanese and Hakka peoples, which together account for 85 percent of Taiwan's population, are strong ethnic groups that exercise control over government resources and state power, and that these groups have a tendency to manipulate ethnic sentiments. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let's begin with Taipei City. Without the support of the majority ethnic Taiwanese and Hakka peoples, how could Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- of Hunanese ancestry and born in Hong Kong -- possibly have beaten the incumbent Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in the 1998 mayoral election? Without ethnic Taiwanese and Hakka support, how could People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) -- who is also of Hunanese ancestry -- have garnered more than 35 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election?

If politicians from the Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union were manipulators of ethnic sentiment, neither Lien Chan (連戰) -- born in China's Xi'an -- nor Soong would have any hope of beating Chen and Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who were both born in Taiwan.

The fact that the ethnic Taiwanese and Hakka peoples have no strong ethnic consciousness couldn't be more obvious. To the contrary, the majority ethnic Taiwanese people suffered ruthless political suppression in the past. Soon after arriving in Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) army adopted colonialist methods and starting sowing discord between the ethnic Taiwanese and Hakka groups.

For example, the KMT government deliberately favored the Hakka people, Taiwan's second-largest ethnic group, by recruiting large numbers of Hakkas to work in the rail and postal services, thereby crowding out the ethnic Taiwanese people who had worked in those services since the Japanese era.

This KMT action is also one of the primary reasons that Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties, which have large concentrations of Hakka people, remain pro-blue to this day.

The KMT's manipulation of ethnicity also extended to the civil service exams. Until the mid-1980s, quota guarantees were given to mainlanders taking the exams. The majority Taiwanese had to put up with such discrimination. This is also why a majority of government employees are pro-blue today.

It is obvious which political party has a history of manipulating ethnic issues to gain political benefit. The examples mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg.

With election time upon us, the pan-blue camp is gathering pro-unification people, along with some liberals who do not understand the pan-blues' political motives, to put on hypocritical moral masks and help block the Taiwanese pesople from settling accounts -- so that the misdeeds committed by the pan-blue camp in the past do not come back to harm the pan-blues in today's democratic Taiwan.

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