President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said in an exclusive interview with the Chinese-language Apple Daily that it is Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) responsibility to find the best candidate for next year’s presidential election, adding that if he is unable to, he must shoulder the responsibility himself.
However, instead of putting the blame on Chu, Ma should realize that he is at the root of the dilemma facing the party.
Prominent KMT politicians — including Chu, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) — have publicly announced that they would not join the presidential race, and when the registration period for the primary ended yesterday afternoon, only Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and former health minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) — both of whom are considered not to be particularly strong candidates — had registered.
Ma is certainly anxious about the situation. According to the Apple Daily, he was a bit emotional when saying that Chu, as the KMT chairman, should be responsible to find a strong candidate for the party.
Ma cited himself as an example, saying that, although he was only a law professor at National Chengchi Univesity and a KMT Central Standing Committee member in 1998, he nevertheless won the Taipei mayoral election that year against then-mayor Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was seeking re-election and had an approval rating of more than 70 percent.
Instead of wallowing in nostalgia, Ma should analyze his behavior while in power, as it is due to his leadership that the government and the KMT have such low approval ratings, with Ma’s at just 10 percent.
Clearly, under such circumstances, anyone who volunteers to run for president on the KMT ticket would be stained by Ma’s administration, and with the scale of political and financial mobilization required to mount a presidential campaign, it might end the career of someone who runs and loses.
A KMT politician, in response to Ma’s comment that party members should put aside their personal concerns and fight for the party’s honor, might well ask: “Why should I?”
Ma’s reference to the 1998 Taipei mayoral election might not work to his advantage either.
To begin with, in 1998, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had a high level of support among both KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters.
Ma might also recall that his loyalties to the nation were questioned during the mayoral campaign, with commentators describing him as the Hong Kong-born son of a pro-unification former KMT official.
Lee held his hand up during a rally, declaring him a “new Taiwanese.”
In addition, the KMT has historically had the support of about 60 percent of Taipei residents, so it was not such a feat for him to defeat a DPP candidate.
So, instead of blaming Chu for the KMT’s problems, Ma should take a look in the mirror.
If he is concerned about the fate of the party, he should stop making statements advocating the unification of Taiwan and China, because the majority of Taiwanese do not support it and he is damaging the KMT.