Will the COVID-19 outbreak bring down Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and cause China to collapse?
No one knows the answer to that question, but what is known is that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is clearly betting on the wrong horse: According to the most recent opinion poll by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, published on Feb. 24, support for the KMT has dropped to 12.5 percent, the lowest ever.
Despite this, people are still fighting to take over as party chairman.
Addressing the risk that the party will not be able to make a comeback, KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), one of the two candidates, has talked about “redesign” and the other candidate has talked about “thorough reform.”
Despite all this talk, neither candidate has proposed a way of addressing the campaign to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), retired army general Wu Sz-huai’s (吳斯懷) election as a KMT legislator-at-large or independent Legislator Fu Kun-chi’s (傅崐萁) application to have his KMT membership reinstated. Their only concern is how to win votes — to hell with party reform.
First, look at the campaign to recall Han. There is a high threshold for recalling a civil servant, and no previous attempt has been successful.
Still, there is not a huge difference between the 580,000 votes required to recall Han and the more than 500,000 signatures that have been collected during the second stage of the recall process, so the chance that the recall will succeed is greater than the risk that it will fail.
What is the KMT’s plan for dealing with this situation? Han is the main reason for the KMT’s presidential election debacle.
In addition, not one of the legislative candidates who supported his presidential bid were elected. The two candidates for KMT chair are both avoiding to ruminate on this fact, as Han fans are powerful enough to sway an internal party election.
It is not strange, then, that the second candidate, former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), is going out of his way to praise Han, saying that Han is “a KMT asset, the pride of the KMT.”
Chiang, who is said to have been considered for a run as Han’s running mate, is even equating Han with the KMT, saying: “If Han goes down, it will be difficult to imagine the future of the KMT.”
They simply have no other way of dealing with the Han recall than to ingratiate themselves with Han fans. Even more frightening, they are tying the party’s fortunes to a time bomb that is about to go off, as if nothing bad could happen.
Then there is Wu’s election as legislator-at-large. Wu is such a strong supporter of unification with China that even the pan-blue camp cannot stomach him, so why is it so difficult to get rid of him? Three words: Huang Fu-hsing.
The KMT’s Huang Fu-hsing military veterans’ branch makes up 80,000 of the party’s 330,000-strong membership, and no one dares offend one-fourth of the membership.
In addition, Hau, who is a member of the branch, insists it must not be abolished. Chiang also said that the branch is an important KMT asset.
Of all the political parties in all the democracies in the world, is there another that has a party branch for veterans? Huang Fu-hsing is a remnant of the party-state — how could there be any talk of reform in a party that still respects the party-state?
Still, the reinstatement of Fu’s membership is the strangest of them all. Hau is supporting the move, but Chiang is more reserved, and has said that while the KMT needs friends, it also needs standards and procedures.
He is on the same side as former KMT secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), who opposes Fu’s reinstatement.
Another strange thing is that King, who is leaning toward support for Hau, would oppose Fu’s reinstatement. It is also strange that the clique around former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is getting involved.
King and Fu have disagreements from a previous election when Fu sought the support of then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to oppose Ma and King’s choice.
The reason King has given for opposing Fu’s reinstatement is that it flies in the face of procedural justice, but courts have decided that Ma contravened procedural justice when he tried to expel Wang from the party in September 2013. For that matter, when did the KMT ever respect procedural justice?
As the tug-of-war continues, the party remains incapable of deciding what is the right way to handle Fu’s reinstatement. If Fu is reinstated, would it be possible to revoke Wu’s at-large seat?
What about party reform? Empty words, a mere joke.
Taiwanese used the January presidential election to reject the KMT. The party reacted like a cloud of headless flies, having no idea what to do and lacking all ability to grasp what is important. It is both laughable and pitiable.
If the KMT wants to come back, it cannot continue to shout into the same echo chamber. If it cannot initiate a debate led by a devil’s advocate, party reform would go out the window.
Chen Heng-wei is a political commentator.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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