Wed, Aug 31, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Don't whitewash the past, Mr. Ma

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

To contend for the 2008 presidential elections, Taipei Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) recently attempted to establish a link between the history of his party and that of Taiwan by offering up a new theory, stating that "the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] was founded after the KMT, and we have had party members in Taiwan since 1897. Therefore, the KMT's relationship with Taiwan is longer and deeper than that of the DPP. The KMT is also a local party, because 70 percent of our party members are from Taiwan."

Ma also asserted that "We [the KMT] are not foreigners, we have belonged to Taiwan from the beginning."

Should we, therefore, conclude that the KMT is a local political party? On the contrary, Ma's attempt to localize his party only indicates the "foreign" nature of the party. Isn't it because of the KMT's policy to prevent the Taiwanese people from forming political parties that the DPP was founded? Weren't democracy pioneers such as Lei Chen (雷震) and Lee Wan-chu (李萬居) all thrown behind bars after announcing their decision to form a new political party in Taiwan? Is it dementia that has made Ma so forgetful of the past atrocities committed by his party? Or is it because he is too wrapped up in his bid for the 2008 presidency to remember anything?

A foreign regime is simply a colonial regime. The goal of the KMT's colonial policy was to "reform" the Taiwanese through its party-state ideology. As the whole nation was dominated by a single party, many Taiwanese were forced to support the party, and under such pressure to internalize this loyalty, many suffered from the phenomenon described by the commentator on colonialism, Frantz Fanon, in his book Black Skin, White Mask.

Thus, to explore the nature of the KMT as a foreign regime, we need to analyze the power structure of the party, which Ma said is composed of "70 percent Taiwanese." In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) fled to Taiwan with the remnants of his army and began to establish a dictatorship and single-party rule. As a result, a handful of Mainlanders ruled the nation and kept a tight grip on the Taiwanese through Martial Law and the White Terror.

Let us review the numbers. Between 1950 and 1960, although the Cabinet had been reshuffled four times, all Cabinet members were Mainlanders. After 1962, only two Taiwanese politicians were appointed to the Cabinet. Even in 1984, Mainlanders still predominated in the Cabinet and the three lawmaking bodies of the nation.

At that time, 78 percent of legislators were Mainlanders while 20 percent of them were Taiwanese, this despite the fact that Taiwanese accounted for 80 percent of the population. Moreover, members of the Legislative Yuan, the National Assembly and the Control Yuan did not face elections. Looking at where power is concentrated within the KMT, we can see that in the 1970s, Mainlanders accounted for 85 percent of the core members of the party, and this situation did not change until the 1980s.

When former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) passed away, the presidency went to his vice president, Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). This gave rise to debate within the KMT because, according to the Constitution, Lee was able to become president, but the party could not let him take the position of party chairman.

The main reason for this was that the "party" was the crucial element within the party-state system, and they could not allow the party mechanism to fall into the hands of a local. Even recently, Mainlanders such as Tao Pai-chuan (陶百川), former senior adviser to the president, still clung to this idea. And now we see how Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) easily beat his opponent, Wang Jin-pyng, (王金平), in the KMT chairmanship elections. What is this if it isn't a throwback to the party-state system?

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