Sun, Jun 20, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: New ideas? Thanks but no thanks

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 (林豐正), spoke mostly about how unfair the presidential election had been, how the vote recount was conducted and how the supposedly concealed truth behind the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) needs to be revealed.

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 (藍鷹戰將). Other groups such as the Five, Six, Seven Alliance (五六七) and most KMT lawmakers in the nativization camp also have been calling for reforms.

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 (廖風德), Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) -- continue to hold important party posts despite their pathetic performances in the presidential campaign. If they happen to become the nominees for many of the at-large districts, the resentment within both the rank-and-file and the younger generation will probably reach a new boiling point. Judging from Lien's response on Saturday to Chiu's criticisms -- that some people are "hurting the party" under the name of reform -- it's reasonable to conclude that no meaningful reform will take place under Lien's leadership.

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