It has been more than six months since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was battered in the elections, saw it lose both the presidency and its legislative majority. While no one expects intra-party reform to happen overnight, pledges by KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to reinvigorate the beleaguered KMT and help it rise again gave some hope that the party would at least begin to show signs of realigning its values and reform more closely with mainstream opinion and expectations.
Recent rhetoric from the party’s leaders suggests that the message from the public via election results has not been loud and clear enough. The party has not yet engaged in an in-depth review of the reasons for its electoral defeat.
A case in point was the remarks made by the KMT-affiliated Institute on Policy Research and Development director Lin Zhong-shan (林忠山) on Saturday in a speech addressing a group of young party recruits.
“Do you know how many [government] positions there would be for us to take when we grab back power?” he said.
While it might be Lin’s way of trying to pump up party members’ spirits so they do not lose heart, talk of using government positions as a way to forge party unity had many shaking their heads in disbelief.
It is regrettable and disturbing to see a top-ranking KMT official citing state resources for political gain by using them as some sort of reward to entice young people into working for the party.
If government positions are used as incentives to woo KMT members, one can only imagine the lack of respect they would have for their positions if the KMT were to ever regain executive power.
Equally disappointing were Lin’s remarks that well demonstrate that the KMT leadership is not free of its “party state” mindset, but still approaches governance with a feudalistic stance that regards public office as a way to divvy up spoils.
At the same event on Saturday, Hung said Taiwanese have forgotten that the KMT kept the nation safe and helped it to develop and prosper, and that people remember only the 228 Incident and the White Terror era.
“Has the KMT done nothing else?” Hung said.
While Hung might have meant to encourage party members by reminding them of the party’s contributions, her comments sound more like her venting about what she deems the nation’s lack of gratitude.
All KMT members would be well-advised to take a close look Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation and Taiwan Thinktank polls.
A poll conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed 30.4 percent of respondents said they supported the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), 16 percent said they backed the KMT and 14.9 percent were in favor of the New Power Party (NPP), followed by the People First Party at 7 percent, the Taiwan Solidarity Union at 1.6 percent and the Green Party at 1.3 percent.
A separate survey by Taiwan Thinktank suggested the NPP also appeared to have gained more support from the public, as it showed 16 percent supporting the NPP, while 29.2 percent of survey respondents back the DPP, followed by 17.5 percent in favor of the KMT.
In view of these results, KMT leaders ought to ask themselves why the NPP, voted into the legislature less than one year after its establishment, has already garnered such widespread public support.
Perhaps a better question is why only 16 percent of people support the KMT?
Maybe the KMT would find the answers if it ever engaged in some hard soul-searching.
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