Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Rocky road ahead for Ma

Today, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will create an unprecedented title, honorary chairman, so that current chairman Lien Chan (連戰) can continue to play a stabilizing and mediating role in the party after he steps down next month. In the interests of party unity, chairman-elect and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) plans to make Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) his senior vice chairman, despite having painted Wang as a key figure in "black gold" politics during his recent campaign.

Ma, who has consistently called for reforming the KMT and taking action against "black gold," has confused many people by establishing Lien as a kind of "super chairman" -- a move that will only serve to restrict Ma's freedom of action. And why retain Wang as vice chairman after accusing him of corruption? If Ma follows through with his plans, he will simply be entrenching members of the KMT old guard in positions of power within the party, and his mission to reform the party will come to nothing.

Regarding the KMT's ill-gotten party assets, what Ma has proposed is actually little different from current policy. It includes liquidating party assets, laying off party personnel and streamlining the party's bureaucracy. However, we would like to remind Ma that before the ownership of the KMT's party assets is fully clarified, any move to sell the party's possessions would go against the will of the majority of Taiwanese. If Ma panders to the culture of corruption within the KMT, he will simply shoot himself in the foot, and will quickly find that he has created new obstacles on the road to winning the presidency.

Ever since Ma announced his determination to reform the party, and then went on to defeat Wang in a landslide victory, most media outlets have portrayed him as a shoo-in for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Ma's unwavering and confident attitude in this election campaign has been impressive, and has done much to mitigate his reputation for being "wishy-washy." We hope that Ma can maintain this momentum and make good on his promises to reform the party and avoid coming under the influence of the KMT's old guard. If he does, it will just be old wine in new bottles for the KMT, and such hypocritical reforms will not convince Taiwanese voters.

With regard to his expected run at the presidency, just because Ma has won the KMT chairmanship doesn't mean he can rest on his laurels. Next month, elections will be held for the KMT's Central Committee and Central Standing Committee, and this will be the first test for Ma in his new position. If the Ma camp fails to perform well in this round of elections, the new chairman is likely to be left without a solid power base within the party, and his mission to reform the party will be hopelessly compromised.

People are even more concerned about what kind of people the party will put forward for the city mayor and county commissioner elections in Dec. Ma's commitment to party reform will be underlined if the KMT is unable to find some fresh faces that can win the approval of the electorate.

As KMT chairman, Ma will have to personally supervise the deployment of his troops to effectively meet the pan-green challenge. The KMT's performance in the mayoral and county commissioner elections will be a key factor in whether Ma will be able to consolidate his position as supreme leader of the pan-blue camp.

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