The results of the nine-in-one local elections will be out on Saturday, but what is more important is not which candidates win — rather it is the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) tricks to trigger ethnic tensions that are most worrisome.
During the past few weeks, many non-KMT candidates, such as independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and the Democratic Progressive Party’s Greater Taichung mayoral candidate, Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), have been presenting policy platforms and their visions for the city in which they are running for mayor; meanwhile, the KMT has been fanning ethnic tensions.
First, it was incumbent KMT Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) who said that if he loses the election, the Republic of China (ROC) would collapse. Then it was former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) saying that if KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) loses, the ROC would be gone. Finally, Sean Lien’s father, former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), said that the only way to defend the KMT and the ROC is to have his son elected mayor of Taipei.
Certainly, the majority of voters do not believe that the ROC would collapse if a certain candidate or candidates lose, but such statements may be appealing to those who followed the KMT regime to Taiwan after losing the war against the Chinese Communist Party, as well as some of their descendants.
Lien Chan and Hau went on to accuse Ko of being the descendant of Japanese imperial officials, as Ko’s father and grandfather were born during the Japanese colonial period and educated under the Japanese colonial school system. Ko’s grandfather served as an elementary-school teacher during the Japanese colonial period.
Both Lien Chan and Hau said that a person of such lineage is not suitable to be the mayor of the capital.
The unspoken message is clear: Since 90 percent of the population are those whose families have lived in Taiwan since before the KMT regime took power in 1945, most of them have family members who were educated in the Japanese colonial school system and even served in certain public positions. Therefore, only Mainlanders who came to Taiwan with the KMT after 1945, or their descendants, are suitable candidates to become the mayor of Taipei.
On Saturday, Sean Lien himself said during a rally that, if elected, he would change the name of the street in front of Taipei City Hall from Shifu Road (市府路) — literarily “City Hall Road” — to “Jingguo Road” (經國路) to commemorate the late authoritarian president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) for his “contributions to Taiwan.”
Obviously, the move is targeting senior KMT members and supporters, who are mostly Mainlanders, since they are more emotionally attached to Chiang.
It took decades, after tensions and conflicts, for the different ethnic groups in the country to be in the more harmonious relationship present today. Looking back at how horrible the conflicts were and how far we have traveled, it is absolutely regrettable that the KMT is agitating ethnic divisions for its own gain in the election. No matter who wins the election, the public will be the losers, as it may take some time for ethnic relations to recover after the election.