Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Ma, put your own house in order

For the past few days, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been broadcasting its plans for a large-scale rally this Sunday to call the government's attention to the need to improve living standards.

Striking a graceful pose in front of the cameras, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attacked President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) move to mothball the National Unification Council and guidelines and said he hopes "the government will stop adding fuel to the dispute over unification and independence and refocus on issues relating to people's livelihoods."

A look at the KMT chairman's own house, however, reveals just how empty his remarks were.

The very moment Ma spoke of the need for the party to go all out and hit the streets to demand that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government improve its game, a large chunk of his own people who have sweated years or even decades working for the party were struggling after being forced into early retirement owing to the party's "financial problems."

According to KMT union leader Liu Chien-song (劉健崧), the party was late in paying staff members' health insurance fees last month, did not pay the water and electricity bills of some local branches and hasn't given year-end bonuses to many party workers.

In spite of all these problems, the party still insists on organizing the rally, which costs an estimated NT$10 million (US$308,000).

It seems as if KMT officials, while zealous in their enthusiasm to stage the march to vent their anger against Chen, are all too blind to their own party staff's woes.

KMT Spokesman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) said the march had nothing to do with money. Money is not the point, she said, as the rally will provide an outlet for the public's fury against Chen and allow them to voice their rage against the DPP government. Ma was also quoted as calling on KMT staff members "to get through the tough times [with the party] together."

Based on these party officials' remarks, is the party suggesting that while everybody needs to strive to improve their livelihoods, this does not include KMT staff members? Or have they simply failed to tell their fellow party staff members in plain language that "all KMT staff members should tighten their belts and help Ma strive for the presidency?"

Either way, the question that follows is if Ma can't even take good care of his own party members' livelihoods, how can he prove that he can work for the betterment of all Taiwanese?

When Beijing recently ran crying to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying that the People's Republic of China had long replaced the Republic of China, China had effectively nullified the KMT's precious "1992 consensus," in which "each side has its own interpretation of the `one China' policy." After that slap in the face, one would think that holding a rally against China would be a more justifiable cause for the KMT. Holding the rally would also help the KMT's plight if it does not wish to be upstaged by the pan-green camp, which will hold a demonstration next Saturday to voice its indignation against China's continuous deployment of missiles against Taiwan.

Should the KMT continue to stay mum on China's actions and persist with its irrational attacks on the Chen administration, then Ma, who is scheduled to visit the US next month, will surely face more interviewers like Stephen Sackur and risk seeing himself being placed in an awkward and embarrassing spot again.

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