Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Steering the KMT the right way

By Cheng Shih-yu and Chiao Chun 程詩郁,焦鈞

The past year has been characterized by a certain amount of confusion in Taiwan. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the first family have found themselves enmeshed in numerous scandals.

Other than damaging the nation's image in the international community, these corruption scandals have also slowed down national development and generated public disappointment toward the government.

Judging from the impact of the anti-corruption campaign initiated by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and his red-clad followers -- combined with the results of the mayoral elections in Kaohsiung and Taipei -- young political workers at the grassroots level understand that the public is dismayed with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Particularly after the recent elections, some people have gone from being supportive of and holding high expectations for the KMT to being critical of it and abandoning it outright.

Using a stricter standard to examine the election results, the KMT did not emerge victorious and it could even be said to have suffered a defeat.

Many people thought that the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections would turn out to be a vote of no confidence in Chen. However, the results suggest that Taiwanese have not given up their belief in the DPP. The KMT lost the mayoral race in Kaohsiung and did not obtain the results it had hoped for in Taipei, where only 64 percent of the electorate voted.

The reason most people did not choose the KMT at a time when the DPP's approval ratings were at an all-time low is that the KMT has not been able to give the public hope for the future, nor does its values strike a chord with the heart of the Taiwanese.

"Hope" and "values" do not arise from the chairman's exalted ethic or unique integrity, nor do they come out of the chanting of reform slogans or never-ending pledges of localization. Rather, they are made up of the party's overall image, behavior, ambition and progressive abilities.

Much criticism has been aimed at the KMT concerning the conviction of Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利), the handling of the party assets and the controversy over KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) special mayoral allowance. The routine shirking of responsibility or slow decisions in response to this criticism are hurting the reforms that we are insisting on.

If we continue to be satisfied with not being worse than our political opponents, then we will never be able to inspire public confidence.

Despite its long history, the KMT has always wanted to rejuvenate itself. It stresses localization, but cannot free itself from the influence of local factions. It praises rejuvenation, but its young politicians are all successors to current factional leaders. It insists on reform, but all it has to show for its efforts are politicians shouting reform slogans. Where there really are battles to be fought, when resolution and determination is necessary and when drastic measures are required, the KMT is conspicuously absent.

The public does not only want Ma to be clean, it also wants the KMT to be capable of self-reflection, reform, progress and localization.

With the DPP facing difficulties and China's rise on the world scene jeopardizing Taiwan's international status, the KMT -- which ruled Taiwan for more than 50 years and helped turn it into a successful modern state -- should take action instead of taking a wait-and-see approach.

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