Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Internal unity is the key to success

Since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) confirmed that Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) would be its presidential and vice presidential candidates, new waves of controversy have swept away the party's veneer of unity. Allegations that KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Deputy Secretary-General Liao Feng-de (廖風德) have been trying to seize Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) position, and a petition from party members to have Wu Den-yih and Liao removed, have highlighted the new wave of infighting that is embroiling the party.

Ma's acquittal on corruption charges has now eliminated the greatest obstacle to his presidential run. But prosecutors have already appealed the ruling and many variables remain. It is by no means a foregone conclusion that the KMT will reclaim its position as the ruling party, but most politicians in both camps predict that the pan-blue camp will retain its legislative majority in January, and with it, the speakership. The KMT feels the powerful speakership is more within its grasp than any other position. As such, many members have put off supporting Ma and have begun plotting to take this coveted seat.

KMT politicians have always put themselves first, the party second and the people last. As soon as a tempting target appears, its tradition of ferocious infighting once again rears its ugly head and politicians start behaving like a pack of ravenous dogs. For example, when the party was negotiating between Ma and Wang for the presidential candidacy, Ma told former chairman Lien Chan (連戰) that he would give up the chairmanship to Wang. But Wu Poh-hsiung, who was acting as intermediary, never passed the word on to Wang and instead took the chairmanship himself.

Although Ma has emphasized many times that he supports Wang continuing as speaker, the party has repeatedly delayed listing Wang among its legislator-at-large candidates, ostensibly to force him to toe the line. It has even sent out rumors that Wu could be the speaker, thereby pressing the party's pro-Wang faction to start a petition to topple Wu and even push for Wang to run for president.

Nobody seems the least bit concerned with Ma. Instead, they shamelessly scramble for their own scraps of power. Judging by the squabbles over the chairmanship, presidential candidacy and speakership, it is clear that the KMT's politicians have not yet moved beyond the power-thirsty mentality that has characterized their party since its infancy. During its eight years in opposition, it has failed to take a hard look in the mirror and reform itself.

As for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), although Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) both sought the presidential nomination, once Hsieh won, Su immediately announced his withdrawal. Hsieh put past differences behind him and invited Su to be his running mate and form a "golden triangle" with Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭). The KMT can't hope to match the DPP's democratic style and ability to quickly unify its forces.

The past few presidential and mayoral elections in Kaohsiung were decided by extremely small margins. Next year's presidential election may very well be the same. Although Ma's poll numbers are up and his prospects seem to be improving, the more unified party will enjoy a great advantage over the divided one. In light of this most basic of election principles, Ma and Siew shouldn't celebrate too soon.

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