Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Lien desperately resisting reform

The struggle within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) over its future path and direction has far from ended. KMT Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) decision to turn over the reports submitted by the Strategy and Discourse Unit of his party to a group of scholars for so-called further study -- instead of submitting them to the Central Standing Committee for review and a vote -- has triggered a major backlash from members of the unit.

Lien's move suggests that he has indeed become a major obstacle to the KMT's transformation into a "nativized" political party.

Leaving aside all other issues, Lien's move is seriously flawed from a procedural standpoint. After having gone through the painstaking efforts of establishing the unit and assigning to it the task of studying the future direction of the party, procedurally, the conclusions reached by the unit should be submitted to the committee -- the top-ranking decision-making organ of the party.

As suggested by a member of the unit, KMT Legislator Lo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄), if the committee decides to reject the reports and the conclusion reached by the unit, this would be entirely within the right of the committee and members of the unit would have no reason to be upset. However, what Lien had done was turn it over to four other scholars -- Hu Fo (胡佛), Su Yeong-chin (蘇永欽), Chu Yun-han (朱雲漢) and Hsu Cho-yun (許倬雲) -- for further assessment and revision.

First and foremost, this four-man group is not officially part of the existing party structure. What authority does the group have to change and revise conclusions reached by the unit? The truth of the matter is not even Lien himself has the right to do so. Moreover, after their revisions, whatever is submitted to the committee is in reality not the conclusion of the unit any more. If it is not the intention of Lien and his party to have the committee review the conclusion reached by the unit, then why assign the task to it in the first place?

It is especially noteworthy that the unit is co-chaired by two heavyweight vice chairmen of the party -- Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) -- who are perceived as leaders of the "nativization camp" within the party. This is especially the case with Wang, who is very likely to be elected the party's chairman after Lien steps down. In recent months Lien has experienced mounting efforts within and outside the party to have Wang succeed him as chairman and lead the KMT down the path of modernization and nativization.

Under the circumstances, many cannot help but interpret Lien's not submitting the unit reports to the committee as a way to avoid giving Wang even more weight and influence within the party.

Further, in terms of the substance of the unit's reports, Lien has ample reasons to be unhappy. First, the unit is primarily comprised of members of the nativization faction within the party, such as Apollo Chen (陳學聖), and Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄), who have been the most outspoken critics of Lien's refusal to engage in reform after his presidential election defeat.

It was also obvious based on the direction of discussion and debate within the unit that the conclusion reached by the unit would favor nativization of the party in the future. That kind of conclusion would be the last thing that Lien wants to see, since that means he and his gang -- the advocates of the "Great China" ideology -- would almost certainly be washed out of the party's power core.

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