To no one’s surprise, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) extempore national congress yesterday almost unanimously passed a motion to void the nomination of Legislative Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) as its presidential candidate, giving yet another example that the party is far from being democratic.
About three months ago, the KMT national congress held at the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall unanimously passed Hung’s nomination; at the same venue, the extempore national congress yesterday adopted a motion to void Hung’s nomination, which was followed by a proposal to nominate KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫).
This is the first time in Taiwan’s history — and perhaps one of the few examples in the world, if not the first — that a party has replaced its presidential candidate within a few months of the election.
Certainly, it is the KMT’s “family business” to choose its presidential candidate, but as far as the public is concerned, the “replacement drama” might further prove that the KMT remains clueless about operating in a democracy.
It all began by discussing the proposal to void Hung’s nomination.
Before the voting began, delegate Yu Hao (游顥) proposed a motion that the voting be done anonymously. Although Yu’s motion had been endorsed by more than 100 delegates, past the threshold needed to put it to vote, former KMT vice chairman Lin Feng-cheng (林豐正), who presided over the congress, refused to put it on the agenda, saying that the motion could only be discussed if all the delegates who endorsed it were present. However, he agreed to another motion made by Yao Chiang-lin (姚江臨) to vote on whether to void Hung’s nomination through a show of hands.
If there were certain criteria to meet before a proposal could be put on the agenda, why did Lin not question whether Yao’s motion had met them? And if all the delegates who endorse a proposal must be present, then how did the proposal to void Hung’s nomination pass, since more than 1,100 delegates had signed the endorsement, but only 891 attended the meeting?
When delegates proposed that Chu should be nominated to replace Hung, Lin said that, since choosing a presidential candidate is a serious issue, it should be done “very cautiously.”
Many people might be left speechless upon hearing Lin’s way of doing it “very cautiously” meant that delegates who supported the motion needed to stand up and applaud. And that is how the KMT’s new presidential candidate was chosen.
One of the most frequent criticisms of the KMT government is its opaqueness, which has been the primary reason behind much of the opposition toward it, including the Sunflower movement that eventually led to the party’s defeat in the nine-in-one elections last year.
For Taiwanese who were born after martial law was lifted in 1987, “voting through applauding” is something that they might read about in history books, but for the KMT, it is still a part of the decisionmaking process.
With the vast majority of party delegates supporting the proposal to replace Hung with Chu, it would not be an “accident” if everything were done according to party regulations, if that is what worries the party leaders.
However, apparently, the party leadership is unwilling to even pretend that the KMT is a democratic party.
The nomination is the KMT’s own business, but the party’s undemocratic way of handling it should serve as a warning to voters, a reminder that the party must complete its democratic transformation before voters should put their trust in it.
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