Sun, Jul 31, 2016 - Page 6 News List

KMT should take chance to emerge from ashes

By Kung Ling-shin 孔令信

As the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) party assets have been deemed to be ill-gotten and as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has pushed through the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) in the legislature to allow the confiscation of the assets, what will the KMT do next?

If the party worries that it — the founding party of the Republic of China (ROC) — will be hobbled by this piece of legislation and unable to come back, perhaps Taiwanese would be just as well off without it. It has completely lost the ability to claim that it is in the vanguard of society. In addition, if the party’s assets were indeed acquired illegally, why would anyone complain if they were told to return them to society?

On the other hand, if the assets were legally acquired, the KMT could use this as an opportunity to clean up its reputation and straighten things out by legally declaring its assets. This way, the party and its staff would be able to openly continue to operate their businesses, no longer fearing criticism from the public and the ruling party. Would that not be a good outcome for the KMT?

This could be the KMT’s chance to rise from its ashes — but only if it could free itself of its party-state past and operate according to how a regular party should in a democracy. The party-state system from the time of late presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) does not work in today’s democracy.

Disappointed at the KMT’s current situation, some of its elite members have been relatively inactive. Instead of fighting for the party’s assets, the KMT should be fighting to keep these members and discovering more young talent. As long as it has talent, the party would be able to revitalize and expand itself; and to recruit more talent, it must engage with grassroots communities.

For the KMT, engaging with grassroots communities entails letting go of its pride and past burdens. It must demonstrate a willingness to embrace a simple life and a conviction to attend to the needs of the general public to break the public’s longstanding impression of the party. Any effort devoted to this end would turn out to be far more rewarding and valuable than the KMT’s assets. Instead of living in fear lest the DPP should destroy it, the KMT might just as well let go of its self-imposed burdens, paving the way for transformation and bolstering its ability to take action.

As for the ruling party, which tirelessly pushed the ill-gotten party asset bill through the legislature, its ambition to exhibit power and establish normal democratic standards must be complemented with observance of the very values it advocates. Is it being absolutely fair and selfless as it punishes another party for owning “ill-gotten” assets, or is it simply trying to secure its own interests?

Given the issue’s complexity, how the ruling party handles it will be a test of its political resourcefulness. “Transitional justice” should not become a mere alibi or convenient instrument for removing political enemies.

Kung Ling-shin is chair of the journalism department at Ming Chuan University.

Translated by Tu Yu-an

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