Wed, Dec 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

KMT must cut ties to party-state

By Hsu Yung-ming徐永明

If President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has brought up the national emblem/party emblem issue as an election ploy, then this is probably only the beginning and the issue is unlikely to die down as rapidly as the Chinese National Party (KMT) might hope. In our daily lives there are already too many instances in which state and party are not clearly separated.

From the national flag, emblem, anthem and the general principles of the Constitution to military insignia, the administrative structure of the government and even the establishment of memorial halls, all of these are concrete reminders of the link between party and state. The question of KMT party assets and its ownership of China Television (CTV) and the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC) is relatively insignificant when seen beside these symbols of a political party's total control of a country's ideological framework.

What is really surprising is not how good the green camp has proved at campaigning, but that 10 years after the first direct presidential election and an interminable period of talking about democratic consolidation, we are still discussing an issue as fundamental as what the correct relationship between the state and the political party within a democratic system should be.

Put simply, the question is: Which is more important, party or state? Since it was the KMT that founded the Republic of China (ROC), it is not surprising that many of the fundamental principles and procedures of government have their source with that party. But now that the KMT is in opposition, these former advantages have simply become targets for attack.

We return to the unique characteristics of Taiwan's democracy. It started with the opening up of political office, with former presidents Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) directing the energies of opposition forces into electoral campaigning. For this reason, even though there was considerable debate within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over taking the path of elections or social activism, the party very rapidly developed into an election machine with a highly efficient system of nominations, accurate opinion polls and a group of outstanding people willing to stand for election.

These three factors have been responsible for the enormous electoral success of the DPP in recent years, and the possibility they may win a legislative majority in the elections next month.

As for the lawsuits related to the election results, the "soft coup d'etat" and the controversy over the national emblem and party emblem, all of these matters simply underline the KMT's attitude of being the nation's first and biggest party. Its attitude that it is more important than the nation is not only unhelpful to its electoral hopes, it also gives the impression that it is still a ruling party even when in opposition.

Despite being an opposition party, it seems to be even more conservative than the ruling party, and with all its advantages, it presents an even more appealing target for muckraking. Its ostentatiously splendid party headquarters is crowned with a huge party emblem (or is that a national emblem?). Chen sees this building and this emblem every day, and it is no wonder that he lost his temper.

It is not a question of political sophistication, but simply a matter of common sense.

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