Mon, Mar 28, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Last rites for the KMT?

The recent meeting and 10-point consensus reached between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has raised the ire of many in Taiwan's political scene, most notably dyed-in-the-wool pan-greens and the diehard pro-China lobby.

But one major outcome of this pact that most people have tended to overlook is that it has led to the increased marginalization of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Indeed, it seems the once-mighty nationalist party now finds itself as far away from the center of power as ever. The last five years have seen one disaster after another for the KMT, as first power slipped from their grasp, they suffered a damaging split and lost many members to the PFP; then we saw the highly partisan anti-blue Party Assets Bill legislation.

The party has also gradually reversed previous localization policies, realigning itself with the pro-China faction. These are just a few examples of how the KMT has regressed and alienated itself from the people during Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) lethargic leadership. And now the co-operation between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and PFP, which threatens to relegate the KMT to the status of the least important party in the legislature.

All these events, combined with the current cashflow crisis, raise the question that just a few years ago would have seemed improbable. Could this be the beginning of the end for the KMT?

The first thing needing examination is the relationship between the KMT and Taiwan today. As it stands, the KMT is a party-state, without a state.

Unfortunately for the people of Taiwan, that has created a bunch of pompous, lifelong autocrats who have no idea how to behave in opposition. Instead of forming an effective opposition that challenges and examines the government's actions, they choose to delay, disrupt, and destroy any efforts the democratically elected government makes to improve things for Taiwan. Then it behaves like a spoilt child whose toys are taken away when it cannot get what it wants.

But can one expect anything better from a party with Lien as leader? A man who has never been popularly elected for any position, a man who still refuses to admit defeat in last year's election and a man who is so desperate for success that he treats coming second in the legislative elections as a victory, even though he ignored the fact that all the gains made were at the expense of the pseudo-KMT -PFP.

As a measure of how aloof and out-of-touch Lien and his party are with the electorate, one only needs to look at their reaction to the Bian-Soong meeting. It was suggested that the party reproach the Chinese Communist Party.

Stripped of the power it took for granted and overall control of the state, the KMT is a party in crisis. After it lost the cash cow it milked as a main source of income over the last 50 years, it cannot even afford to pay staff wages on time, or even give them a New Year's bonus.

Mass layoffs are in the pipeline with volunteers expected to fill vacant posts. Its members now have to learn new skills, like calculating which policies will appeal to voters, instead of calculating how much to pay them, and how to create policies that people will like, instead of dictating policies they won't.

But change is slow, they are finding it hard to reform and change the stagnant system that developed during 50 years of unchallenged superiority. Reminders of this corrupt legacy still lie uncomfortably around the Taiwanese landscape, the biggest example of this is the party's headquarters, built opposite the Presidential Office -- as if to signify that the leader of the state would never have far to commute from home to office.

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