In an apparent taunt to the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Friday asked the committee to recover two plots of land in China’s Nanjing that the party used to own.
Citing 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), which mandates political parties to report properties not under their direct control, the KMT said it “therefore decided to abide by the act and report the land to the committee.”
While the KMT might gloat over what it thinks was a clever jab at the committee, it appears to the public as a political snit.
The KMT’s remarks suggest that it is detached from reality — still under the illusion that a Republic of China government organ can have jurisdiction beyond Taiwan’s borders.
Since the committee started work on Aug. 31, 2016, following the passage of the act the previous month, it has been probing ill-gotten assets that political parties have obtained since Aug. 15, 1945. It ordered the KMT to transfer to the government its shares in Central Investment Co and Hsinyutai Co, which are deemed KMT affiliates; froze the assets of the National Women’s League, also deemed a KMT affiliate; and sequestered a KMT think tank office building over its misappropriation of state-owned land during the Martial Law era, among other things.
All these no doubt touched a nerve in the KMT, whose extensive assets and business empire had until then served as a war chest to be used in election campaigns.
The slogan “If the KMT does not fall, Taiwan will never get well” was popular in the run-up to the 2016 presidential and legislative elections. The slogan reflected public sentiment at the time and the public’s displeasure with the KMT’s China-leaning stance.
It has been nearly two years since the KMT was relegated to the opposition following its crushing defeat in the elections, yet, regrettably, instead of evaluating the causes of its defeat and realigning itself with mainstream public opinion, the party appears reluctant to assist the government in achieving transitional justice.
If the KMT leadership were wise enough to ride the impetus of the transitional justice process and committed itself to it, the party could have reshaped its image, won voters’ praise and redeemed itself in the eyes of the public.
Political competition is a condition of democracy, as it gives parties an incentive to respond to voters’ demands.
A single-party absolute majority is certainly not healthy for a democracy, as political scientist E.E. Schattschneider famously wrote in his 1942 book, Party Government: “Modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties.”
Being the main opposition party, there are many things that the KMT could do to show voters that it can put up an effective opposition that looks to the nation’s interest, not its own, and prove to the public that it is capable of adapting to changing times and values by transforming itself into a democratic party.
The 2016 campaign slogan might still ring true in the hearts of many, but if the KMT can prove that it can grasp the notion of democracy, help achieve transitional justice and commit itself to a Taiwan-centric stance, it might just have a chance to rid itself of that slogan for good.
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