Tue, Jul 05, 2016 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: KMT can still turn over a new leaf

When Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) first took over the reins of the party earlier this year, she promised to reinvigorate the beleaguered KMT by bringing it closer to the public and nurturing young members to help the party rise again.

Before that, Hung, who sought to disperse speculation that her pro-unification stance would mean the party’s inclination toward a hasty unification with China, also touted herself as the most “local” candidate during February’s chairperson by-election, saying that she was born in Taiwan, speaks Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) and was raised on domestically produced rice and water.

Regrettably, however, what the public has seen over the past three months is not a party that is trying to embrace Taiwan’s mainstream public opinion, but one that appears to be drifting further away from it.

This sad trajectory has been evident in a number of recent cases that showed the KMT is failing to keep up with the times.

First, the party demonstrated resistance to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) push for transitional justice by procrastinating and resisting the relinquishment of its ill-gotten party assets.

A survey released by the Chinese-language weekly Business Today in March showed 76.3 percent of respondents believe the nation has yet to achieve transitional justice. It is regrettable that the KMT, under Hung’s leadership, has labeled transitional justice proposals pitched by the DPP and New Power Party as “transitional hatred.”

Second, despite numerous polls suggesting that a growing number of people in Taiwan identify as “Taiwanese,” with the latest poll conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation indicating that more than 80 percent of respondents identify as Taiwanese, compared with only 8.1 percent who identify as Chinese and 7.6 percent who identify as both, Hung continues to push her “one China, same interpretation” mantra, which goes against what most people in Taiwan want.

Then there was the expulsion of former KMT spokesperson Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中), who has been critical of the party’s policy direction on television talk shows and on Facebook, because he was “damaging the party’s reputation.”

The KMT’s responses to these issues suggest that it is becoming “deeper blue,” while also being intolerant of dissenting views.

In previous years, there was a pro-localization faction within the KMT, and while the faction was alienated under former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) chairmanship, it appears to be nonexistent under Hung’s rein.

Fortunately, all is not lost for the party, yet.

Adimmune Corp chairman Steve Chan (詹啟賢), who assumed the party’s vice chairmanship last month, has recently uttered a different view from Hung’s on the party’s assets.

Chan reportedly said that the KMT caucus should not block reviews of legislative proposals aimed at dealing with the KMT’s assets, as such a move would only confirm the public’s belief that the party is incapable of engaging in introspection.

As former US president John F. Kennedy once said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ (危機) is composed of two characters — one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

The KMT might have gone through some rough times of late: losing the presidency and its majority in the legislature for the first time since it came to Taiwan in 1949. However, this also presents it with an invaluable opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

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