When Miaoli County Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members met Friday with Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), young party member Chiu Teh-hung (邱德宏) criticized party leaders' failure to reform the party.
Though unwelcome, Chiu's remarks gave some purpose to what until then had been a merely ritualistic exercise. While Lien's meetings with party members were euphemized as a "thanksgiving tour," Lien himself briefly called it a "re-election tour." And so it is really intended, as during each stop both Lien and the party's secretary-general, Lin Fong-cheng (
These meetings' participants can be divided into two groups: diehard KMT supporters and those interested in running in the next legislative election. During the time reserved for party members to speak, the first group would never utter a word of criticism against the party, while the latter would usually seize the opportunity to make campaign speeches.
With virtually no substantive discussions or proposals regarding the party's most pressing task, internal reform, it's no wonder that advocates of reforms such as Chiu feel impatient. Chiu is of course not the only one who knows where the KMT's problems lie, and in fact he convened a group of KMT reform advocates, the Blue Eagle Warriors (
However, Lien seems determined to turn a blind eye to any constructive criticism. Among many needed KMT reforms is the party's primary election system -- more candidly, its lack of any such system. Before the list of nominees for at-large district seats is even released, the talk on the street is that some people have already offered "handsome prices" for the nomination. While the truth of such allegations remains to be verified, at the very least it is undeniable that trading such nominations for political favors and rewarding those with the right personal connections with nominations are part of the party's long-standing culture. This can be done because the party machinery holds the exclusive power to make such nominations, which are made behind closed doors and without any specified objective criteria.
One major reason for dissatisfaction among younger KMT members is the party's refusal to engage in any normal generational succession. Not only have Lien and Lin shown no willingness to resign to show accountability for the election defeat, members of his gang -- many of them former students of Lien's, such as Liao Feng-teh (
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