People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜)is once again running for president. It feels as if history is repeating itself and it is the year 2000, which shows that the nation’s democratic development is being stifled by the colonial structure of the Republic of China (ROC).
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is in chaos and political tricks are being played once again. Soong has started a mud-slinging match with his former party, starting another chapter in his political life.
In 2000, Soong refused to accept former vice-president Lien Chan’s (連戰) nomination as the party’s presidential candidate. Aside from despising Lien, former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) chosen successor, Soong also wanted to prevent the ROC from falling into the hands of Taiwanese. After losing the election, Lien ran off to China, showing his true colors.
Fast forward to the present and Soong has correctly assessed the situation: Everyone knows KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) is suffering from deep-blue syndrome and has no chance of winning next year’s election. Unable to suppress his wild ambition, Soong has returned for another go.
Soong is determined to adhere to the so-called ROC structure, despite the fact that it is smothering the nation’s prospects. Still trapped within the ideological construct that says: “Taiwan is a part of China,” Soong is determined to preserve KMT rule.
The PFP and the deep-blue New Party are two different wings of the KMT’s party-state ideology. The former, having adapted in its tactics, understands the electoral process and knows it must take into consideration voters’ views and unite politicians to win over the electorate. The latter sees Taiwan as belonging to the KMT, which is the motivating force behind all that it does and the reason it despises the nation. That said, the PFP also does not believe Taiwan belongs to Taiwanese. Both parties are equally bad.
During the 2000 presidential election, Soong defected from the KMT, yet he still received support from within both the KMT and the New Party.
Soong’s drifting in and out of the KMT shows that he believes he is the true voice of the party. As he sees it, Hung is nothing more than the puppet of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former National Security Council secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰).
Soong is unable to let go of the Chinese DNA that makes up the KMT and he is bound by his ideological roots. Trying in vain to assume the role of a model Taiwanese provincial governor and stuck in a time warp, Soong is unable to come up with innovative solutions to political problems.
After Lee became president, the New Party splintered from the KMT and later Soong used his political power to establish another party, but in comparison with many KMT party members, Soong and his breakaway party were more saturated with the KMT ethos.
When Lee was forced to step down, none of his powerful entourage — in particular former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) — dared to make any rash moves. Siew followed orders when Ma brought the party back to power, taking on the role of Ma’s deputy. Wang, who was challenged by Ma and lost the battle, is still languishing within the party; nursing a grievance, though he remains loyal. They are Taiwanese politicians who have been cowed or perhaps have lost heart.
Compared with Soong’s ambitious and ruthless nature, they are servants and followers. When the time came to throw their hats in the ring, they bottled it.
Lee Min-yung is a poet.
Translated by Edward Jones
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