The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Organization and Development Committee yesterday proposed a revision to party regulations to make it mandatory for the nation’s president to serve as party chairman, part of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) plan for closer cooperation between the KMT and the government.
The proposal, raised during a meeting of the KMT Central Standing Committee, was presented under Ma’s instruction.
Ma, who doubles as the KMT chairman, yesterday defended the proposal as a response to calls from grassroots members.
“The proposal is not a sudden whim from a few party members sitting in the air-conditioned room… I fully support the proposal even if my chairmanship would be cut short. The KMT should not have two suns at the same time,” he said at party headquarters.
The proposal stipulates that when the KMT is in power, the president should also serve as party chairman. It will be presented at Sunday’s party congress for approval.
If it is passed, Ma, who is in his second and final term as the president, would lose the KMT chairmanship in 2016 if the KMT won the presidential election and be replaced by the next president.
The 567 Alliance, a group of young KMT members, yesterday raised concerns about the proposal.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) said the alliance supported the idea, but the proposal is being raised at the wrong time. The party should seek consensus on the issue before presenting it to the national congress, he said.
“The seven-in-one municipal elections are approaching, and the proposal could become a way [for the president] to avoid the responsibility for the result of next year’s elections. The timing of the proposal is very inappropriate,” he said.
The alliance had made a similar proposal in the past as a way to force Ma step down as KMT chairman once his presidency ends in 2016, but it was opposed by other party members.
Under current party regulations, Ma, who was re-elected chairman in June, would serve until 2017.
However, yesterday KMT officials dismissed the alliance’s concerns, and said Ma wanted to establish a new system to enhance cooperation between the party and the government.
Senior DPP politicians declined to comment on the possible change, saying that it was an internal KMT affair. The DPP has a similar regulation in its chapter, Article 15, which stipulates that an incumbent president would be automatically serve as party chairman until the end of his or her presidential term.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said the regulation had been an experiment for the DPP, but experience has shown that such centralization of power was flawed.
Citing Japan’s parliamentary system, Hsieh said the leader of the majority party serves as prime minister, but allows the secretary-general handle party affairs, so that the prime minister could concentrate on national affairs.
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said the DPP and KMT should reconsider the mechanism if it the public dislikes it, adding that the KMT’s planned change feels like “the second coming of the Leninism,” which is not a good thing.