Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Lien Chan just won't go away

Signs suggest that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and his lackeys may be looking for ways for Lien to stay in the party chairman post. Now that Lien has experienced the imperial reception accorded by Beijing during his recent trip to China, it must be difficult for him to start packing up for the retirement home.

When the KMT first announced that Lien was going to China, many observers began to suspect that perhaps Lien was not quite ready to ride off into the sunset. The fact that he went on the trip despite threats of criminal prosecution for "treason" by the pan-green camp, suspicions and skepticism within Taiwan, and US concerns reinforced this belief. After all, if he was really ready to step down, his time and efforts would be better spent looking for a suitable nursing home.

Lo and behold, before Lien had even returned from his trip, his cronies within the KMT had began to talk about how Lien should stay in the chairman's post. Of course, he needs justification -- serious justification -- for not stepping down. After all, he suffered two devastating presidential defeats. Under his leadership, the KMT shrank from the nation's biggest political party to an opposition party. It would take some really thick skin to hold onto the office without some excuse. Not even Lien could stoop that low.

At first, the justifications offered by Lien's supporters was that the race between Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (連戰) and Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) for the chairmanship would divide the party at a time when it needed to stay united, and that Lien was the best party leader for settling the issue of who should run for the presidency in 2008. Unfortunately, such talk received no positive echo within the party.

It would be naive to think that Lien would want to compete in the chairmanship. After all, he will probably lose the election. So he can stay on in the post only if his current term is extended or both Wang and Ma back out of the election. The second scenario would be a repeat of the last KMT chairmanship election, in which Lien was the only candidate.

Unfortunately, when asked what he would do if Lien runs for the chairmanship, Ma has consistently said he will run as well. Wang has cunningly said that he would back out of the race -- thus shoving the responsibility for complicating Lien's bid onto Ma's shoulders.

Under the circumstances, the trip to China gave Lien the glimmer of hope that he so desperately needed. So far everything seems to be working out well for him. In a recent poll conducted by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), after Lien's trip to China, the level of the KMT's popular support increased to 34 percent, surpassing the DPP's 33 percent. That, of course, is because a lot of conservative pan-blue supporters switched from supporting the People First Party (PFP) or New Party as a result of this trip, and as a result of the meeting between PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

So, as expected, after Lien returned from his trip, even more of his supporters began to openly urge Lien to stay on. As for Lien himself, consistent with the teaching of his mother culture -- the "Chinese culture" -- he lets his gang speak out for him, while himself denying any intention to stay in the chairman's office. This is what the Chinese culture calls the virtue of "humility."

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