Unless there is some irregularity, a political party’s national congress is never postponed. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ninth congress, for example, was postponed for 13 years while the Cultural Revolution ran its course. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) 19th congress was scheduled to take place on Sunday, but earlier this week was suddenly rescheduled. The reason for the change was that something irregular had happened.
It has been reported that the congress will instead be held on Oct. 26 and the venue will be changed from National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in downtown Taipei to the Chungshan Building on Yangmingshan. Even though the KMT is escaping to a mountaintop, it still has to pay its respects to the party’s founder.
When the party’s Evaluation and Discipline Committee revoked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) membership on Sept. 11, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attended the meeting in person to oversee proceedings and to address the committee, while choking up and shedding crocodile tears.
As a result of the bitter intraparty fight that Ma started, it became necessary to postpone the party congress. This is a developing crisis for the KMT, but it is also an opportunity for change, depending on how the party handles the issues.
After Ma’s attempt to revoke Wang’s party membership, Taiwanese — and KMT supporters in particular — gained a new understanding of their president and KMT chairman. This is why Ma’s approval ratings dropped from 13 percent to 9.2 percent. Despite his decreased popularity, he does not engage in self-reflection, but only changes his strategy. He even called the top managers of five media companies to pressure them to reverse public opinion about his move against Wang.
The president interferes personally in the judiciary and the media, and he tried to remove the speaker of the legislature. Taiwan is still a democracy, so how long will the public be able to control their anger?
If there is one event that put Taiwan on the road to where it is today, it was the assassination attempt on then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on March 19, 2004, the eve of the presidential election. What had been a normal campaign and a normal transition of power changed because of those bullets.
The KMT accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of arranging the shooting and the DPP took offense. The result was a standoff between the pan-blue and the pan-green camps that still exists today. The divide between the camps has harmed the political landscape.
The KMT did not trust the results of the DPP government’s investigations into the shooting and the reports became impossible to verify because the main suspect mysteriously drowned. Ma has not further investigated the case since taking power, which is also very strange. What is there to be afraid of?
In 2010, Sean Lien (連勝文), a son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), was lucky to survive a shooting. This occurred on Ma’s watch and the truth of it has also not been uncovered. To this day, Sean Lien is afraid to run for office. There have also been reports of death threats against him.
The assassination attempt on Chen and Lu had far-reaching repercussions for Lien Chan, People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and the DPP. Who stood to gain from the incident? The DPP would not stop Sean Lien from coming forward if he wanted to, so who is afraid of the truth behind his shooting? Is Taiwan really ruled by spies and gangsters?
If Taiwanese politics are to develop normally, the pan-blue and pan-green camps must stop their fighting and temporarily put aside arguments over unification with China versus independence. They should investigate these serious incidents of political violence. Why was DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming’s (柯建銘) telephone wiretapped for two years over a case involving NT$200,000, but assassination attempts and shootings are left unresolved?
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Perry Svensson