If anyone had harbored hope that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) was to bring about much-needed reform to his party, those hopes have now been dashed.
The pathetic publicity stunt of the KMT’s short-lived “occupation” of the Legislative Yuan on Sunday and Monday last week failed on so many levels, it is difficult to know where to start.
Seeing Chiang at the scene was disappointing and raises the question of why he allowed it to happen. The farce began when KMT legislators barricaded themselves into the legislative chamber. However, they were kicked out only 19 hours later, just in time for lunch, by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators who wanted to get on with the business of government.
The reason given for the action was the KMT caucus’ opposition to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Control Yuan nominees, including former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) for its president. The KMT was attempting to call out the DPP for hypocrisy, as the latter had pushed hard for the abolition of the Control Yuan when in opposition. The DPP might still wish the Control Yuan to be abolished, but such an initiative would require constitutional amendments. While it still exists, Tsai is constitutionally obliged to nominate members, and opposition parties are constitutionally required to participate in the confirmation process.
Chiang, of course, is well aware of this. He is not ignorant of the party’s constitutional duties. The stunt in the legislative chamber merely shows the KMT leadership to be patronizing the electorate. If the KMT were so committed to abolishing the Control Yuan, it should propose a draft constitutional amendment, as a responsible opposition party might do. If the KMT were so opposed to Chen as the nominee for Control Yuan president, it could demonstrate effective opposition by, for example, conducting a public opinion poll on her suitability for the position.
The New Power Party (NPP) did. The poll showed that less than half of respondents thought Chen was a good choice.
There is plenty of time to make the case. Chen’s nomination is not to be reviewed until Tuesday next week, and the final vote is slated for Friday next week. This schedule was ironed out on Monday, after the KMT legislative caucus ended its shenanigans.
Perhaps the most embarrassing and wrong-footed aspect of the whole affair was the pretension that it could be compared with the Sunflower movement. The students who occupied the legislative chamber in March and April 2014 represented a groundswell of disaffected young voters who felt they had no recourse but to make a grand gesture. They demonstrated their resolve by holding out until they had secured promises in response to well-defined demands.
By comparison, last week’s stunt left the KMT looking ineffectual, disorganized and weak.
When it lacks a majority, the KMT often reverts to political theater. It did this to some effect during the pension reform debates in Tsai’s first term. It knew the reforms to be necessary and that its core supporters would lose out, so it leveraged the optics of fighting the reforms while knowing they would pass, allowing the KMT to blame it on the government.
The Control Yuan’s nominations are nowhere near as emotive or contentious an issue. Was this occasion worth the theater? What was Chiang thinking?
Discerning voters can surely see through the facade, and the KMT already risks losing the trust of voters to emerging and apparently more effectual opposition parties such as the NPP. Perhaps he was attempting to assuage party hardliners mortified by his suggestion that the so-called “1992 consensus” should be regarded as just a historical fact, which is virtually a heresy to the old guard.
Taiwanese democracy deserves a more mature, serious and effectual main opposition party.
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented