Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 8 News List

KMT faces a struggle for power in its ranks

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

A major advantage of democracy is that it can solve political issues through peaceful means. The principle of democracy is that power shall never be forever dominated by one person or a small clique of people.

Power is transferred through elections. Nevertheless, holding elections does not necessarily mean democracy actually exists. Without elections, however, there is no democracy. This is why the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) first chairmanship election last week was not fully democratic.

When the KMT, a century-old revolutionary party, for the first time allowed its rank and file to directly elect its chairman, it was indeed a major step toward democracy, although there is still much for the party to accomplish. Holding elections, however, is only a beginning. The question is whether the KMT can continue its drive to reform itself.

I believe such reform may be difficult because democratic processes are incompatible with the KMT's party structure. It is the pressure of Taiwan's overall democratization that has forced the KMT to adopt a more democratic system. Small wonder that the election turned out to be a baptism by fire, leaving a number of obstacles that are making it difficult to move forward. There are still no signs of a power transfer.

As a result of pressure from Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has to step down following continuous electoral defeats. Now his protege, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), has also been handed a resounding defeat.

I wonder if Ma's hold on power within the party will be weakened now that Lien has been appointed honorary chairman of the KMT by the party's Central Standing Committee.

I believe that the coming internal struggle will become even more intense than the chairmanship election campaign. The question of whether or not Wang would attend the first meeting of the Central Standing Committee following the election, and whether he would take up his post as acting chairman at that meeting drew media attention.

According to a media report, Wang had previously insisted that he would not participate in the meeting until outgoing KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) convinced him to do so. However, Wang left halfway through the meeting, after the passage of the proposal to make Lien honorary party chairman, which shows that his purpose wasn't to participate in the meeting, but only to pass the "Lien clause."

In all honesty, the proposal to ask Lien to remain as honorary chairman, if not directed by Lien, was probably organized by Lien's clique within the party. The reason why Lin managed to persuade Wang to participate was for him to help see to it that the "Lien clause" took effect. Why else would he leave to inform Lien that he had been appointed honorary chairman as soon as the proposal was passed?

The question is why it was Wang, who some say will resign from his post as deputy chairman, and not Ma, who informed Lien? According to media reports, the reason Wang left the meeting was because he was planning to meet with legislators supportive of him and seek the support of the newly-elected party representatives in order to gain a majority in the Central Standing Committee election, scheduled for next month.

With Lien having been made honorary chairman and the attempt to win the support of a majority of Central Standing Committee members, one can but wonder what Lien and the KMT's democratic ideals really are.

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