Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is completely preoccuppied with the 2008 presidential election. It's obvious to everyone, and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) elder Wang Tsuo-jung (王作榮) exposed it all in a single sentence. Ma's plan is in fact very simple -- the mayoral seat brought him the KMT chairmanship which will bring him the presidency. That's what made it necessary for him to press for former KMT chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) resignation.
Ma is worthy of the epithet "Son of the party-state," and he is aware that without control over the party machinery he will have no chance of becoming president in 2008. Forcing Lien to reject Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
The day that Ma won the party's chairmanship also marked the beginning of the KMT's campaign for the 2008 presidential election. In other words, Ma is not doubling as Taipei mayor and KMT chairman, but rather, he is using these two positions to support his bid for the presidency. This also exposes the logic behind Ma's power.
Ma feels that his climb to the pinnacle of political life is blocked by the KMT's "alien party" curse, which means that everything depends on the KMT's treating correctly the question of Taiwan. Ma keeps repeating that he wants to build a relationship between the KMT and Taiwan, stressing that the KMT must first connect to Taiwan before it can deal with China, which clearly shows that Ma knows where the key to the throne lies.
Frankly speaking, it would not be difficult for the KMT to rid itself of the image of being "alien" and localize. The difficulty lies in not making any fundamental changes, and instead relying on Ma's skill to come up with a cosmetic discourse to serve as the party's new clothes. The problem is whether or not the KMT is an alien power or party. It has not been involved in the 400 years of Taiwan's history, but rather its contemporary history, which is a painful part of that history as so many people have experienced directly.
Ma has said that, "The relationship between the KMT and Taiwan is deep." That's no lie, but the problem is this: Would this relationship survive if the Taiwanese had a choice, not to mention the ability, to question the depth of that relationship? Ma has asked why, if the people are dissatisfied with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the DPP won 1.5 million more votes in last year' presidential election than it did in the 2000 election?
At the very least, Ma should understand that these 1.5 million votes were not the result of two bullets, but rather of the public not believing that the KMT will be reshaped into a trustworthy government. The key to winning this trust is Ma's dreaded image of the KMT as an "alien party."
Ma has realized the importance of that image, but he blames it on influences by people who think they understand Taiwan and the government's misleading use of history. Not only will that approach not help him solve the problem, but it also violates fact.
The person who is pointing straight at the KMT and calling it an alien party is a former KMT chairman -- former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). In 1993, when Lee met with a Japanese author to discuss the tragedy of being born in Taiwan, he frankly pointed out that "the KMT is also an alien power." Lee pointed out a historical fact that Ma now is afraid of facing up to and recognizing.
If Ma is to connect the KMT with Taiwan, he must not be afraid of recognizing people such as Chiang Wei-shui (
Ma also spoke of the bottle of whiskey given to him by a son of a 228 victim who had been given it by Sun for helping him when he visited Taiwan on a fundraising trip. Ma then used that as a symbol of the depth of the bond between the KMT and Taiwan as well as the Taiwanese people's respect for Sun. The question is if that is enough to wash off the image of the 228 slaughter performed by the alien ruler.
Furthermore, the 228 incident was the precursor of the Formosa incident, a clear indication of the continuity between the KMT foreigners and the White Terror. Although Ma has nothing to do with the 228 incident, there remains the question of the Formosa Incident.
At the time, Ma came off as a screaming fascist of the 228 mold in an article called "Special Report on the Formosa Incident in Kaohsiung" in the Chinese-language Boston Bulletin where Ma was editor-in-chief. If he had been around at the time of the 228 incident and had he had access to a newspaper, I wouldn't have been surprised if he had written an article called "Special Report on the 228 Incident in Taipei" to defend the alien ruler.
We have gone from the 228 and the Formosa incidents to Lien's and People First Party Chairman James Soong's (
What is the use of all his empty talk when he is governed by the word "Chinese" in the KMT's name and refuses to make any changes towards localization?
Chin Heng-wei is editor in chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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