Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: The ROC may be the KMT’s last card

Since the 2014 local elections that saw the beginning of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) re-emergence, most Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) leaders have pledged reforms and sworn to return the almost century-old party to its former glory.

If their ultimate goal is to regain control of the Presidential Office, they have certainly done a lousy job achieving it.

With every leadership change comes renewed hope of rejuvenation. That was the sentiment when former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) won the KMT leadership in May with a landslide victory, despite allegations of foul play.

Under Wu’s predecessor, Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), the KMT grew weak and became irrelevant. It was a distribution center of groundless and off-point accusations directed at the pan-green camp, causing the party to become a laughingstock.

The party was also financially crippled by the government’s effort to recover the assets the KMT had illicitly gained during its one-party rule.

Against this backdrop, Wu’s strong grassroots ties and extensive political experience made him the only viable choice in the KMT’s latest chairmanship election, even though he is not the party’s brightest star and his assumption of party leadership risks further delaying a much-needed generational transition.

However, the KMT’s actions in the months following Wu’s victory suggest that he is also scraping the bottom of the barrel. The party’s continued clinging to the Republic of China (ROC) hullabaloo is proof of that.

Since last week, the KMT has devoted itself to attacking the DPP government for not including the ROC title and national emblem on invitations to Double Ten National Day celebrations scheduled for Tuesday next week.

The KMT has also threatened to boycott budget reimbursements for the national day dinner in DPP-governed Taichung if ROC flags are not displayed at the event.

In August, the KMT filed a complaint with the Control Yuan against the DPP administration because of a disproportionate image of the ROC flag on the Presidential Office’s Web site, calling it a transgression.

The KMT’s dramatic response is understandable, given that it was probably the party’s relentless scrutiny over whether the DPP respects the “ROC system” that has gotten the party what it wants since President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration in May last year.

The ROC title was conspicuously displayed on last year’s National Day invitations. The DPP administration even printed the ROC flag on a commemorative towel for the event.

Moreover, Tsai no longer skips parts of the national anthem that are reminiscent of the KMT’s party-state rule, as she did before becoming president.

What the KMT seems to forget is that these are tough compromises for a party elected into office because it emphasizes the will of the people — who increasingly aspire to an independent state free of Chinese influence — and transitional justice, which, in Taiwan’s case, essentially means dismantling the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) ROC system that he brought with him in 1949.

The only reason the DPP administration still honors the ROC system on the surface and celebrates its founding anniversary is because it wants to avoid allowing a decades-long political topic, which is unlikely to be resolved in the near term, from taking the focus away from important domestic issues.

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