Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - Page 3 News List

South losing faith in KMT as party loses direction

By Peng Hsien-chun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweights and members of the party’s Central Standing Committee have warned that the party’s southern support base has crashed through the floor and that the party could be on the verge of fragmenting.

According to a source within the KMT, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has grown even more distant from party bigwigs since the presidential election in January and has had little, if any, interaction with them.

One example is former KMT chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), who met Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in March. Despite Wu’s conveyance of the “one country, two areas” (一國兩區) rhetoric to Hu, Ma’s cold treatment of Wu in later months has been witnessed by several party members, the source said.

Wu’s emphasis at the press conference after the meeting that the message he had conveyed to Hu had Ma’s full approval and that he was “doing as I was asked to do” seemed to highlight that Wu was conveying a message from Ma, the source said.

“It’s very chilling to see those higher up in the party choosing people outside the party over established party systems,” the source said, quoting the political heavyweights, adding that they had also stated “in private to me a few days ago that the atmosphere within the party has changed and that the ‘cohesion and unity’ of the party was gone.”

Meanwhile, the source also said that some of the party’s Central Standing Committee members worried about the extra damage the ongoing bribery case of former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) would inflict on the party.

Lin was dismissed from the party after he was accused of taking a NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) bribe from Ti Yung Co-owner Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥) to facilitate a slag and waste contract between Ti Yung and China Steel Corp.

In private statements, the source said, committee members had told them that the Lin scandal had seriously undermined the image of the KMT and if party officials were to become embroiled in another case, especially ones that are high up in the party hierarchy, “the results would be unimaginable.”

As Lin’s hometown is in southern Taiwan, committee members who had just returned from visiting the south said that the stance of citizens there in relation to the KMT was “staggeringly” negative, adding that if an adjective was needed to describe the party situation in the south, it would be “disastrous.”

Ma does not seem to understand the mindset of the general public and people are not listening to his continued calls against corruption, the source said.

“We’re going to lose control of things” if the issue is not taken care of, especially when distrust of Ma is common and pervasive, the source said, quoting the committee members.

The entire Cabinet, including Ma, have never encountered such a situation before and their handling of the Lin case shows that “they are panicking,” the source said, adding that the administration should change their thought patterns or there would be more serious issues to come.

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