Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice chairman and chairmanship candidate Steve Chan (詹啟賢) yesterday called the KMT a “diverse and inclusive” party, saying that supposed infighting between its “local” and “nonlocal” camps would ruin the KMT.
In a radio interview, Chan was asked about local media labeling him and former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who is also running for the KMT chairmanship, as more “local” than KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), a waishengren (外省人) — people and their descendents who fled from China after the KMT’s defeat in the Chinese Civil War — who reportedly has the support of the party’s Huang Fu-hsing military veterans’ branch.
He challenged the categorization, calling into question the definition of “local.”
“Is being a native Taiwanese [as opposed to a waishengren] ‘local?’ Or voting in central or southern Taiwan? Or speaking Taiwanese [commonly known as Hoklo]?” Chan asked, contending that “local” and “nonlocal” are “generalized groupings” used by the media.
“We should refrain from using simplified classifications. What is crucial is candidates’ ideas for the party,” he said.
“Mine are that of the ‘middle way,’ which is to say that the KMT should, while keeping the Republic of China standpoint, ponder how the Taiwanese public’s interests could be best maintained,” Chan said, adding that the KMT’s “greatest value to Taiwan” is its diversity and tolerance.
He rejected the notion that being a waishengren inevitably means belonging to the “nonlocal” group, as being a “‘local,’ if Taiwan’s history is any reference, has been nonexclusive and open to various cultures from the very beginning.”
In its more than six decades in Taiwan, the KMT has always been inclusive and has incorporated different groups, “which runs contrary to the Democratic Progressive Party, whose ‘local’ is exclusive in character,” Chan said, adding that through his bid for the chairmanship he aims to provide another option to the party following that dichotomy.
“Dividing the party [by whether a member is ‘local’] is a path the KMT cannot take. How do they [other candidates] plan to unify the party after the election if this is how they plan to win the race?” he asked.
Chan called on new party members to “distinguish between personal connections and the interests of the whole,” amid reports of a sudden influx of members and applicants, of which many are “nominal members” or have backgrounds tied to organized crime.
As of last week, the party has accepted about 19,000 new members this year, in addition to more than 9,000 who renewed their memberships, increasing the total of effective members to more than 300,000, “a rate of increase that is quite substantial,” he said.
Whether new members have organized crime backgrounds should be investigated, but the more pressing question is that of their motivation, as they might have joined the party with a particular aim and will probably disappear after the election, he added.
“I cannot say that their applications were made to help a particular candidate win the election, but even if they were, no rules were broken,” Chan said.
“All I can do now is call for all members to be objective and rational, and ask them not to be bound by clientelism and bear in mind the larger picture for the party and Taiwan as a whole when voting in the chairperson election,” he added.