Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Back to the drawing board

Following its electoral defeat in Kaohsiung and its loss of support in the Taipei mayoral race, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has held a number of meetings to pinpoint the reasons for its failure.

Reasons cited have ranged from blaming the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for indulging in foul play to blasting President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for airing unconfirmed vote-buying accusations against the KMT's candidate to, um, again blaming the DPP for foul play. The KMT has completely overlooked one very obvious reason -- its pro-China policy.

The feebleminded KMT continues to ignore, or stubbornly refuses to acknowledge, that its pro-China propaganda is increasingly remote from mainstream public opinion.

In view of last Saturday's showing, some KMT members have proposed that the party move its headquarters to Kaohsiung, while others have suggested Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) make more frequent trips down south to improve relations with pro-localization advocates. When will the KMT realize that the problem lies not in the location of its headquarters or whether Ma learns to speak Taiwanese more fluently, but rather where its heart is?

The DPP headquarters is not down south nor do many of its second-generation Mainlander members speak fluent Taiwanese, but no one questions the DPP when it trumpets itself as a pro-localization party.

Shouldn't the KMT trumpet the pro-localization banner even louder, given that it has been in Taiwan for almost 60 years?

Many foreign workers or spouses learn to speak competent Mandarin within a couple of years of their arrival and many come to embrace Taiwan's culture and history with fondness and appreciation. The KMT should be ashamed that it remains a stranger in a strange land. Many of the KMT's old guard and their descendents still know no Taiwanese, have no appreciation for Taiwan's culture and don't identify with the land that has sheltered them for so long.

Time and again the KMT under Ma has sworn that its ultimate goal is unification with China. It's performance last Saturday should be a wake-up call for the party to reassess its policy and platform.

According to a recent survey by the Election Study Center at National Chengchi University, the percentage of respondents who consider themselves "Taiwanese" increased from 56 percent last year to 60 percent this year. A survey released yesterday by the Straits Exchange Foundation suggested that 57 percent of people identify themselves as Taiwanese.

It is time for the KMT to become pro-localization and identify with Taiwan. It is time for it to ditch its outdated "one China" policy and stop deluding itself that China is its motherland and that one day it will rule there again.

It should take a lesson from two-time British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, who once said: "I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?"

Ma should take this piece of advice if he still harbors ambitions of winning the people's hearts and the 2008 presidential election. For a start, why not change the party's name to the Taiwan Nationalist Party?

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