Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Name change not enough for KMT

The problem with sincerity is that it is a difficult quality to distinguish.

This might be to the advantage of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

During a visit with KMT supporters in Taichung on Sunday, Ma, in response to a suggestion that the party should change its name to better represent Taiwan, said the party would consider such a move once it had regained the presidency.

It would be interesting to know what the connection in Ma's mind between regaining the presidency and changing his party's name is.

But then, it may just be that he is preoccupied with the former.

Adding weight to the interpretation that Ma's remark was an automatic response to win support ahead of the legislative and presidential elections is the fact that the very next day he had a change of heart.

When cornered by reporters in Taipei, Ma said that his remark did not necessarily mean that the party had decided that it would ever change its name -- only that it was a possibility.

Chairman of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee Yang Tu (楊渡) came to Ma's defense, explaining that the comment should be regarded only as a "polite reply" in response to a question from a grassroots supporter.

"[The remark] was nothing to attach great importance to," Yang was quoted as saying.

Yang's explanation is very enlightening and something that all voters should bear in mind when decoding Ma's comments ahead of the elections. Apparently, if the KMT chairman says something you like, it may be because he really means it -- or it may just be that he is being polite.

Critics of the KMT have long attacked the party for its seeming detachment from the country that has served as its base since 1949.

If Ma truly intends to localize his party, showing respect for the average person would be an excellent way to start.

In other words, Ma should stop peddling the stance that the country's official independence is an option for the Taiwanese people, but not an option for the KMT.

The KMT needs to consider more than just a superficial name change. After all, the country already has a "Taiwan Nationalist Party" -- a political party founded by a group of pro-Taiwan independence activists in July 2005.

Instead, the KMT should try identifying with ordinary voters and talk openly and honestly.

Ma has long been regarded by pan-blue supporters as the most likely candidate to run in next year's presidential election.

As a potential presidential hopeful, Ma ought not to weigh his words so lightly if he hopes to gain respect and support from the public.

As former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher said: "To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best."

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