Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 3 News List

KMT is split on `Chinese' in its name

WHO ARE WE?Some in the party want to give the appearance of having local consciousness by getting rid of a verbal reminder? foreign consciousness

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Strategy and Discourse Unit (國民黨策略論述小組) is struggling to reach a consensus on dropping the word "Chinese" from the party's name, KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said yesterday.

"The idea of renaming the party came up during the unit's [Friday night] meeting, said Chen, a member of the panel assigned by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) last month to set the course of the party's policies and strategy.

"But there was no consensus with regard to this issue," Chen said.

"We will take the issue with us in our visits with the grassroots [party members] next month to gather others' opinions on this matter," he said.

Chen said that renaming the party was suggested by Liao Ta-chi (廖達琪), a National Sun Yat-sen University professor. Legislative Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hsi-shan (林錫山), who took part in the meeting on behalf of KMT Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), supported Liao's proposal with statistics.

According to Chen, approximately 50 percent of those surveyed by the party regard themselves as Taiwanese.

About another 20 percent regard themselves as "Taiwanese as well as Chinese," according to Chen.

"The numbers suggested that about 70 percent of the public harbor Taiwan consciousness," Chen said.

"If the KMT wants to be a ruling party, it must not neglect the growing Taiwan consciousness," Chen said.

The same survey showed that only about 30 percent of respondents feel that the KMT needs to change its name.

Chen cited the People First Party and the New Party as parties that don't mention "Chinese" in their names -- yet the majority of the public associates these parties with China.

Chen said that other members of the unit voiced reservations about a name change.

"So it may mean that whether or not the party changes its name does not make a big difference, but the idea is open for all to discuss," Chen said.

While acknowledging that dropping the word "Chinese" from the party's name could help strengthen its pro-localization credentials, Wang yesterday cited advantages and disadvantages of a name change.

Wang said the party will not take action hastily: "The unit now is just in the preliminary stages of gathering opinion from everyone with regard to this name-change proposal ... A conclusive decision on this issue will not be made until it is taken to the party's Central Standing Committee, or even to the party's national congress."

KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) yesterday said that the party should not set any limits on possible changes to its name if it is serious about assessing its strategic direction.

"The party might even want to contemplate removing the word `national' from its name as well, if such a thing is necessary," Lee said.

Chen yesterday said that the strategy panel, co-headed by party Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Wang, had mapped out a tentative schedule for visiting South Korea on May 25.

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