Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 8 News List

KMT should provide new policies, not spite, barbs

By Hsu Yu-fang 許又方

Campaigning for next year’s presidential election has not officially started, and Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has not yet been confirmed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) national congress — which is scheduled to make its decision on July 19 — as its official candidate.

However, attacks against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) have already escalated, including rumors that the Tsai family owns the Hai Pa Wang seafood restaurant chain, which has investments in China.

Tsai is now being described as a member of the elite — someone who wears expensive, brand-name shoes. Such aspersions are intended to mark Tsai as a member of a privileged moneyed elite while Hung is portrayed as an ordinary member of the public. Tsai’s father has even been accused of being a “traitor” for helping the Japanese colonial government repair airplanes.

This is a classic example of negative campaigning and it is especially ironic given Hung’s earlier statements that she and Tsai would compete woman to woman in a high-profile election.

The KMT obviously has not learned its lesson from the public backlash against comments made by former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) last year, when he called then-Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) a descendant of “imperial Japanese subjects.”

The party still thinks it can rely on nationalistic rhetoric to demonize its opponents and gain votes. However, the reality is that this type of mudslinging not only harms its own image, but also insults the intelligence of voters.

A relative who is a pan-blue supporter said that the whole of his close family were disgusted by Hau’s “imperial subjects” comment. Although the family did not support Ko in the mayoral election, they were also unwilling to vote for KMT mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文).

With the KMT’s failure in the special municipality mayoral elections last year fresh in mind, could it be that it still has not learned its lesson and is likely to make the same mistake all over again?

Labeling Hung an ordinary citizen and Tsai a person of power and privilege mirrors the framing of the competition between Ko and Lien in the campaign for Taipei mayor. However, any comparison between Tsai and Lien is spurious.

Tsai comes from a wealthy background, but her father worked hard to acquire the family’s wealth. Lien’s situation was very different, as he was the scion of a political dynasty which spanned three generations — and which by its dominant position had amassed a fortune worth tens of billions of New Taiwan dollars.

Tsai’s father and brothers are not members of the political elite, so where does the label “powerful and privileged” come from?

Hung, who has been involved in politics for more than 20 years and is backed by the KMT’s vast political and business machine, must be considered the candidate who represents power and privilege — and her political power and financial support cannot be underestimated. Although Hung is only moderately well-off, there is no doubt that she represents the interests of the elite.

After more than seven years of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) incompetence, the public’s biggest desire is to have a capable person pull the nation out of its slide and root out corruption.

Demonizing opponents does not highlight one’s own capabilities; a much better way is to win over voters by clearly expounding one’s political philosophy.

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