The various political parties’ lists of legislator-at-large nominees have drawn far more controversy this year than in previous elections. The one released by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been particularly contentious, to the extent that the commotion surrounding it nearly cost KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) his post.
The reasons for this were myriad. Here are but a few.
Former KMT legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) has made a habit of stirring up controversy and drama, and his so-called “scoops” have not always proven entirely accurate, ruffling more than a few feathers. Those who dislike the man properly loathe him, while the few that care for him think he is the bee’s knees. One of his more recent greatest hits was proposing that China use military force to annex Taiwan.
However, on the matter of the list, Chiu seems to have had an uncharacteristic bout of self-awareness: He voluntarily withdrew his name from the list, throwing in his lot instead with the New Party, which placed him at the top of its own.
Retired lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) won notoriety after he was filmed at a major event in Beijing in 2016. Wu Sz-huai sat quietly and listened to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) speech, and when the participants stood to sing the Chinese national anthem, he, too, rose to his feet. It remains unclear whether he actually sang along.
On another occasion, he provided suggestions to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on how to fight against the US in a TV program broadcast by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite TV, suggesting his turncoat potential.
Wu Sz-huai has assured the Taiwanese public that he was merely following “international etiquette” when he stood for the Chinese national anthem. Surely, “international” suggests affairs between two or more nations. Since China does not recognize Taiwan as a nation, what does he mean by “international,” or was he essentially promoting Taiwanese independence?
It is possible that this initial list was all part of a cunning plan by Wu Den-yih. Not only did putting Wu Sz-huai fourth on the list please Beijing, it also served as an incentive for the retired lieutenant general to stay in Taiwan, lured by the offer of becoming a legislator.
Wu Sz-huai would probably soon wake to the many privileges of being a legislator, including exclusive vehicles, a multimillion New Taiwan dollar annual salary, personal assistants coming out of his ears, annual overseas inspection tours, immunity from persecution and being feared by government officials. What is not to love?
It is unlikely that he could look forward to such a cushy number if he went to China, where he might even find himself having to memorize the quotations of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) in a re-education camp.
Dismissing media coverage of his past and unfavorable public opinion, Wu Sz-huai immediately swore loyalty to “the Republic of China [ROC], which is different from that of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).”
Perhaps people will get used to him being a legislator over time.
The ROC is a slippery concept; Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) once said that it “was subjugated together with the mainland and ceased to exist.”
If Xi had his way, the ROC would go the way of the dodo altogether.
At least Tsai regards the ROC as being alive and well, albeit equating it with Taiwan. There is no consensus about whether the ROC exists or what it actually means.
For Wu Sz-huai, there exists an ROC distinct from Tsai’s. Where is it and what is it like? Does it even need to exist at all?
Peng Ming-min is a former Presidential Office adviser.
Translated by Chang Ho-ming
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