While President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administrative team may be in low spirits, this has had no effect on the vigor newly appointed Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) has shown in handling party affairs.
Success in the year-end special municipality mayoral elections will directly influence Ma’s re-election bid in 2012. The KMT is already pretty much assured of defeat in Tainan and Kaohsiung. This leaves three municipalities — Taipei, Sinbei City and Taichung — where the KMT can win. Taipei already looks somewhat precarious for the KMT and incumbent Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) withdrew from the election race for Sinbei City (新北市). The feeling in the KMT seems to be that Vice Premier Eric Chu (朱立倫) should run, but he has so far rejected the idea. For a year, Chou refused to pull out of the election, but things changed when King became involved.
The KMT feels that King is justified in pushing Chou out to promote Chu because it is a small sacrifice for a greater cause. Normally when people refer to a “greater cause,” they refer to the nation and society as a whole, while the “small sacrifice” is that of a political party or the president. The “greater cause” represents overall national interests, while the “small sacrifice” represents local interests.
The distinction between great and small means that it is quite a normal occurrence to promote outstanding local leaders to the central government. In this way, localities may lose a competent leader, but in the greater scheme of things, the nation stands to gain a talented government official. However, King is now doing the exact opposite: He wants to take a county commissioner deemed incompetent by local residents and bring him into the central government. He also wants to take the vice premier, who was expected to bolster central government performance, to return to a local government position. He even wants legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who gets the best approval ratings in the government, to run in local government elections.
To guard against a terrible loss in the upcoming elections, the KMT has given up on central government administrative matters and put legislative issues on the back burner to focus all its attention on the local elections. In doing so, the party and King have prioritized isolated, local affairs over affairs of national importance.
This does not actually mean the KMT is placing more of an emphasis on localities. What it does mean is that it is focusing all its attention and efforts on assuring victory in local elections, with an eye to Ma’s 2012 presidential campaign.
When the KMT talks about “the greater cause,” it is not referring to the nation, our society or even the party, but to Ma himself. Every decision the KMT makes must be in the interest of Ma and his cronies. King is especially skilled in looking after Ma and his interests. In this atmosphere, the KMT, the nation, Taiwanese citizens and everything else must take a backseat to Ma.
King now has a lot of power and can make the decisions he sees fit on key positions in both the central and local governments. He also determines important laws, their content and procedures, and he wants to draw up a code of conduct for legislators-at-large as if they were a bunch of naughty children. However, it should be noted that legislators-at-large are elected by voters. King, on the other hand, was elected by no one.