Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 8 News List

KMT remains insincere about useful reform

By Lee Hsiao-feng 李筱峰

In 2005, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was electing a new chairman following an internal party struggle. Both during the election campaign and in his inaugural address after having won the election, then-KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) repeatedly talked about implementing reform.

In a commentary at the time, I said that hearing the KMT talk about reform was as ridiculous as hearing a tiger talk about becoming a vegetarian. The reason for this comparison was of course that a tiger is a carnivore by nature.

Following up on this analogy, any reformer must meet two fundamental conditions. First, they must have the personal, perhaps revolutionary, qualities of a reformer, which means that they cannot be sticks in the mud and that they must be creative.

Even more importantly, they must not be afraid of abandoning vested interests or changing ideas or habits that benefit vested interests.

Early Chinese revolutionary leaders all possessed these qualities, but today’s KMT lacks the characteristics typical of a reformer. The reason is that the KMT today is held together by ideas about benefits and the power of money, rather than values, such as democracy, freedom and social justice.

The second fundamental condition that must be met by any reformer is that they must be clear on what it is they want to reform — they have to have a clear platform.

Take the Meiji Reform in Japan, for example, or the reforms led by Kang Youwei (康有為) and Liang Qichao (梁啟超) during the final years of the Qing Dynasty. These reforms all had clear goals, which were required for these reform movements to gain traction.

Following its defeats in the nine-in-one local elections on Nov. 29 last year, the KMT is once again calling for reform.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who is preparing to take over the KMT chairmanship, even brought up the issue of controversial party assets to demonstrate the sincerity of his calls for reform, although it did not take long before he said that it was a “bogus issue.”

Faced with these calls for reform and looking at what is actually being done instead of only listening to what is said, Taiwanese will discover that there has been no fundamental change to the nature of the KMT: It remains a party made up of a group of opportunist politicians looking for money, power and fame — a party built around the collusion between officials and captains of industry.

“Change” is not the same thing as “reform.”

For example, a fraud ring that finds that their old tricks no longer are effective will be only too quick to change methods, but this is just changing their tricks, not reform. If they really wanted to reform, they would stop cheating people and dissolve the fraud ring. If they turned themselves in to the authorities, that would be even better.

Following the same line of reasoning, if the KMT were to change the way it persuades people to support it with votes because it is winning fewer votes, that would not be reform.

Consider this: The KMT killed innumerable people in the past; it does not separate the party from the state; political scientists have called it a fascist party and it will not return the hundreds of billions of New Taiwan dollars of state assets that it has misappropriated.

Will it really be capable of true reform? It is all very simple. The public will just have to see whether it returns all the ill-gotten assets it misappropriated from the state to know the answer.

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