Are the candidates in the upcoming Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairperson election simply vying for the party leadership or is it about preparing for the grand prize of the presidency in 2024?
According to political logic and the rules of power play, the election for the top job in a political party is to muster the troops for major elections, with the objective of selecting the presidential candidate or primary political power brokers, thereby gaining control over the executive and legislative branches.
The KMT has done away with the formula of 30 percent party member votes and 70 percent public opinion polls in the chairperson primary in favor of looking solely at opinion polls, so that it is best placed for gaining the ultimate prize in 2024.
However, the two main candidates have clearly set their sights firmly and exclusively on the deep-blue vote within the party, and seem to be unconcerned about votes coming from anywhere else.
One needs look no further than how they staged their official registration for the election.
Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) made sure he arrived at 10:10am on the dot, a clear reference to Oct. 10, Double Ten National Day, and was flanked by representatives of the Retrocession Alliance formed of members of the KMT’s deep-blue Huang Fu-hsing (黃復興) faction, including retired generals such as former army commander-in-chief Chen Chen-hsiang (陳鎮湘), Central Military Institute and Academy Alumni Association president Chi Lin-liang (季麟連) and Fu Hsing Kang Alumni Foundation president Lee Tien-tuo (李天鐸).
Not to be outdone, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) amassed a veritable constellation of his own, as he was accompanied by representatives from the Military Academy, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Political Warfare Cadres Academy, also known as Fu Hsing Kang College, and the National Defense Medical Center.
Who exactly were these people? They are hardly household names. None has a sufficiently high national profile to attract votes, and therein lies the rub: The presence of these “heavyweights” will hold no sway beyond military dependents’ villages or the deep-blue vote.
Thus, it revealed Chiang’s and Chu’s modest expectations: Their ambition stops at securing the KMT leadership.
The party loves to dangle numbers before Taiwanese’s eyes, as evidenced in Chu’s reference to Double Ten National Day and the “seven major policy initiatives,” and Chu’s “five major goals” and “five major promises” if he wins re-election.
Of course, there is also Chu’s “823 Artillery Bombardment,” which he claimed for the KMT, saying that it represented how the party defended Taiwan in 1958.
He was simply repeating the KMT’s lie about the bombardment of Kinmen and Matsu, which was a farce contrived by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT.
As former Chinese prime minister Zhou Enlai (周恩來) told former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger: In 1958, then-US secretary of state John Foster Dulles wanted then-president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to abandon Kinmen and Matsu to completely sever relations between Taiwan and China, but Chiang Kai-shek refused to do so, due in part to Zhou advising him not to withdraw his troops.
The truth is that the bombardment was a sham, an act of cooperation between the CCP and the KMT. Zhou himself used the word “cooperation.”
If this is the case, how can what happened be seen as the KMT defending Taiwan?
Even more risible are Chu’s comments that not one person from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spilled their blood in the defense of Taiwan.
To this I would ask, has Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) ever spilled one drop of his blood defending Taiwan, or spent a day in jail for his political convictions? Has Chu? Has Johnny Chiang?
Who exactly is Johnny Chiang trying to kid with his new slogan: “the 1992 consensus based on the Republic of China Constitution”?
He has proposed two versions of this slogan in Chinese, but however he phrases it, marrying the corpse that is the Constitution with the lie that is the “1992 consensus” simply does not get Taiwan very far.
In February, just after he became KMT chairman, Johnny Chiang was fully prepared, without a second’s hesitation, to bid farewell to the “1992 consensus,” saying that it is outdated, lacks flexibility and is gradually losing the support of Taiwanese.
He also said that he himself was a young man of only 20 years when the “consensus” was made, and that “irrespective of whatever ‘consensus’ the two sides of the Taiwan Strait arrived at back then, friends younger than myself need to feel that this ‘consensus’ in some way represents them.”
Not even half a year later, with those words still ringing in people’s ears, he has retrieved the discarded concept from the trashcan of history and held it aloft as some kind of rediscovered treasure.
The reason he has done so is simple: He wants to use its tarnished allure to secure the deep-blue vote; he wants his slice of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) support.
After all, as the appetite for the chairperson election has all but dissipated, he needs all the votes he can get, by hook or by crook.
He might well find that his new slogan will come back and bite him in the behind.
Truly, the two main KMT chairperson candidates have their mouths full of lies and heads full of cheese.
Chin Heng-wei is a political commentator.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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