There is a transitional stage in life called adolescence, during which teenagers tend to be rebellious. Most people enter puberty in their early teens. With inculcation from many Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) elders, president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) finally began his “adolescence” by rebelling against those same uncles last month by appointing former Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) to be Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) chairwoman.
Former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) is one of those KMT elders. His first visit to China a few years ago defused the long-standing political crisis between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Lien appears to have monopolized control over the relations between China and Taiwan ever since. On the other side of the Taiwan Strait, his position is unchallengeable and irreplaceable.
However, Ma is a president elected by more than 7 million people. Even without all the votes from Taipei City, he still obtained more votes than Lien did four years ago. So how could Ma possibly stand having such a person above him?
Since cross-strait relations must be the KMT’s main focus in the next four years, there will not be considerable improvement on such domestic issues as commodity price hikes, economic growth, education, human rights or unemployment rates, no matter what the perspective. Therefore, Ma has to take the lead on cross-strait policy.
With these pressing reasons, his delayed adolescence has thus been launched.
Ma has said he chose Lai to be the council chairwoman in an attempt to incorporate voices from the pro-independence green camp on the cross-strait issue in order to build a national consensus.
However, this argument is untenable.
First, if Ma thinks that Taiwan should not develop too close a relationship with China and that the cross-strait relations should not be hastily handled, he could have brought that up before the election instead of using Lai to cool down disputes afterwards.
Second, Lai recently said that she completely supports the KMT’s cross-strait policies. This means that she supports such policies as the so-called “1992 consensus,” “one China with different interpretations,” direct transport links, opening Taiwan to Chinese tourism, removal of the 40 percent cap on China-bound investment and allowing the exchange of the Chinese currency.
This raises the question of how Lai will represent a different voice in the new Cabinet, whether her presence will help Ma build a consensus and promote reconciliation, and whether the appointment of Lai really will mollify the 5.44 million who voted for the pan-green ticket.
Reconciliation, shared pan-green and pan-blue government, and a diversity of opinion on cross-strait policy are all based on the precondition that Lai remains the same old Lai. Yet, obviously, this is no longer the case.
People should not forget the press conference co-hosted by Lai and Straits Exchange Foundation chairman-designate Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) last week. Their interaction was definitely one of the most hypocritical in Taiwan’s political history, and a keen expose of political affectations.
The press conference highlighted the KMT’s modus operendi — if a position of power is on offer, past insurmountable misgivings will be forgotten and everyone will be happy.