Sat, Oct 17, 2015 - Page 8 News List

KMT bigwigs foster emancipation

By Wayne Pajunen

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians have been wringing their hands over the situation they have orchestrated. Behind the scenes, party machinations have fomented dismal electoral prospects for its legislative candidates, by appointing a feisty and unrelenting presidential candidate. Still, a cabal of party heavyweights appear to be suspiciously aloof during the ongoing turmoil.

In contrast, the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) trajectory has soared at the hands of DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her platform. The good fortunes of the party have encouraged its members to envision self-rule for Taiwanese.

The KMT’s electoral prospects began to corrode during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term in office.

After consecutive electoral victories — twice in Taipei City mayoral elections and twice in presidential elections — the party had nothing to show in exchange for the public’s faith in it except hollow platitudes, while ethnic Taiwanese had had enough. The stain-proof coating of “bumbling” Ma’s, as The Economist put it in 2012, charismatic charm had worn bare.

In the meantime, a generation who never experienced the KMT’s pre-democratic era practices of repression and fear came of age, giving rise to the Sunflower movement. Protesters occupied the main legislative chamber in March last year to halt the ratification of the cross-strait service trade agreement, which was perceived as a sellout of the nation’s economy to China.

The public act of defiance spurred independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) to win the Taipei mayoral election and secured a landslide victory for the DPP in the nine-in-one elections last year. Taiwan’s political paradigm was shaken.

In recent years, the KMT has offered nothing to pro-democracy Taiwanese, except a nightmare scenario of “now or later:” A swift and violent military takeover by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) or a tortuously slow absorption of the nation’s culture and economy by the PRC.

The Sunflower movement has demonstrated that the public is not willing to be bullied by the ruse employed by the KMT.

When it was time for the KMT to nominate a candidate to face Tsai in January’s elections, party bigwigs locked themselves away and abdicated responsibility for the party’s future.

The KMT nominated the lone victor of the drubbing it received in the local elections, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) as KMT chairman. Then it undemocratically — in the broad sense — chose Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to be its presidential candidate. She has so far proven herself to be democratically tone-deaf, preferring to turn up the volume on the KMT’s traditional authoritarian posture, which Ma never dared to publicly brandish.

The KMT claims Hung was nominated through democratic means, but a true democracy chooses and elects candidates via elections that are perceived as fair, providing equal opportunities to all stakeholders. Public opinion polls can be easily manipulated. Winning a popularity contest that is measured by pollsters when nothing is debated or communicated with the public is a far cry from winning an election. Doing so proves that candidates have the ability to attract voters, organize an electoral campaign and mobilize support.

Had the KMT availed itself to the open process, it would not have been “surprised” with the cross-strait platform Hung has espoused since her nomination.

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