Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Times in Taiwan ‘Are a-Changin’

By Wayne Pajunen

Through social media the world watched and waited for the KMT to once again to rear its ugly authoritarian head and stifle the will of the taike, but the government, restrained by peering social media, refrained. The young people were emboldened, they were able to speak their minds, the times were “a-changin.”

Then came last month’s elections, and in Taipei the KMT, with blinders fixed and a mountain of cash in hand, forged ahead with their authoritarian ways.

Nominated to maintain its grip on the crown jewel of the nation’s municipalities, Taipei, was Sean Lien (連勝文), the son of former vice president and former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), and a lifelong public servant who had somehow become extremely wealthy along the way.

The princeling Sean Lien also proved to be another KMT bumbler in the mold of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as Ma was described by the Economist in 2012, when it came to his apparent off-the-cuff policy platforms that were ridiculed by both the public at large and even dyed-in-the-wool KMT apparatchiks.

During six years of Ma’s administration, the KMT’s credibility has diminished following one misdeed after another, and with young people leading the way, the swing voters of Taipei, Greater Taichung, Taoyuan County and other cities and counties switched allegiances for the first time in history (without the KMT vote being split as in Taipei in 1994).

The KMT was broken and in the Nov. 29 elections the opposition reaped a landslide victory with 7,264,957 votes to the KMT’s 4,990,677. The unprecedented results left the KMT with only one razor-thin victory, by New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), from the nine major cities across the nation.

Post election, “there was a Cabinet reshuffle, the premier stepped down, but the same people remain in the Cabinet; the only change is the vice premier taking over as premier,” former president Lee said in the Taipei Times.

The old stalwarts of the KMT appear unable or unwilling to change their ways so detested by the populace and are hearing predictions of a coming decade or more of political exile such as that which the KMT bestowed on many of their critics during the Martial Law era.

On Friday last week, Chu, the lone victor for the KMT, said: “A dysfunctional political system, and nepotism and cronyism ... have plagued affairs,” adding that “the dark sides of a market economy and capitalism have emerged in Taiwan.”

Chu, who is running for KMT chairman, said the party needs to draw lessons from the bitter loss by thoroughly reviewing its “general line” and policies, because the people’s anger expressed through the ballot box was “vicious.”

Is the party that lead the nation to become one of the so-called Asian Tigers ready to change its stripes, as Chu suggests, or is it simply more platitudes to mollify short term memories? Only time will tell.

What is certain though, whether the KMT adapts to the new realities or not, is that the nation is transitioning through a paradigm shift, but as Dylan cautioned in his song: “Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen, and keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again, and don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin, and there’s no tellin’ who, that it’s namin’, for the loser now, will be later to win, for the times they are a-changin’.”

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