Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 9 News List

The KMT must ditch Lien, merger plan

If the KMT is to have a future, it has to get rid of its failed leader and its "one China" dogma and reinvent itself as a Taiwanese party

By Lee Chang-kuei李長貴

ILLUSTRATION MOUNTAIN PEOPLE

In 2004, Taiwan's political democracy has undergone some most trying tests. Taiwan's narrow and winding road to democracy has had much to do with a political system established by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) over a time span of 30 years after World War II. On the eve of the presidential election on March 20, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) were almost assassinated in Tainan City, highlighting the closeness of this past presidential race, the complexity of the underlying political struggles, the fragility of Taiwan's political and government systems, and the ethnic and "one China" issues embedded in Taiwan's political infrastructure. The Chen-Lu ticket won the election with a narrow margin of 0.228%. Thereafter, Taiwan's political democracy and society became trapped in a serious political storm that lingered on in the sky of the nation's capital Taipei. The Presidential Office, the Legislative Yuan, the KMT, the People First Party (PFP) and the general public all became part of the storm, which eventually turned into a political tornado that rampaged through Taipei for over 70 days. As a result, Taipei fell into an unprecedented state of confusion and depression.

lack of respect for law and order

After the defeat of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), without a shred of real evidence of foul play by Chen and Lu, the two launched demonstrations calling for the so-called "truth" behind the assassination attempt on Chen. They also filed lawsuits to declare the election results void. This was followed by yet another campaign to demean the Executive Yuan -- referring to it as part of an "unlawful government." All these indicate that the KMT and PFP are political parties with absolutely no regard for the law and self-discipline. Their conduct has turned post-election politics into a tasteless farce, further revealing how fragile is the foundation of Taiwan's political and constitutional system, how meaningless party politics can be, and how much they themselves disrespect law and order. The melodrama also has shown up the political character of Lien, who is despised by many for inciting the general public to the point of attacking the Presidential Office.

Lien and Soong joined forces to run for the presidency. They were determined to win at all costs. In front of 500,000 people attending a campaign rally they held in front of the Presidential Office, Lien hypocritically laid face down and flat on the ground to kiss the earth as a gesture to show his love for Taiwan. This gesture was intended to deceive the one million people who participated in the Feb. 28 Hand-in-Hand Rally into believing that he had abandoned the "one China" principle. At the same time, Lien and Soong did not forget to make personal attacks against Chen and Lu, fabricating stories to build an image of incompetence, deceit, and corruption for Chen. They were determined to end Chen's political career. Of course they did not forget to promise political favors to special interest groups. For example, they promised to cab drivers that once they were elected business license taxes and fuel taxes for cabs would no longer be levied. To retired workers, they promised an 18 percent interest rate on their retirement pensions. To civil servants, they promised an annual salary of NT$1 million. Moreover, those in power within the KMT openly placed large sums in bets with underground casinos that Lien and Soong would win the election, hoping to turn the tide of the election by influencing the large number of voters who participate in such underground gambling games.

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