Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) on Sunday admitted that he had been an informant for the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government. Huang wrote on Facebook that while he was a student in the 1980s, he was approached by intelligence officials, who threatened him after he had befriended alleged dissidents and forced him to work with the authorities. Fellow DPP lawmakers praised Huang’s courage in admitting his wrongdoings, with one lawmaker encouraging him not to resign from the party — as he had announced he would do.
Conversely, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) used the opportunity to accuse the DPP of being authoritarian and not allowing dissent. Chu’s ironic and seemingly farcical accusations aside, perhaps even more noteworthy was his attempt to absolve the KMT of the atrocities it had committed during the Martial Law period, saying that it was a product of the times and “not the real KMT.”
While the DPP has for the past several years striven to uncover historical facts and restore justice to victims of political persecution, the KMT — which was the perpetrator — has been the epitome of contradiction in its attempts to distance itself, while simultaneously espousing itself as the progenitor of the modern Republic of China (ROC).
When then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) — who made the democratization of Taiwan possible — in 1995 apologized for the 228 Incident and encouraged discussion of the issue, it should have been an impetus for change in the KMT. In 2013, then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) apologized to the victims of the White Terror era, saying that “relevant historical documents should be permanently preserved and included in textbooks to demonstrate the government’s sincere reflections and advancements.”
However, after the Transitional Justice Commission in May 2019 attempted to access the KMT archives, it reported that the party did not provide it with the requested surveillance documents and instead handed over a bunch of historical texts related to the KMT’s war against Japanese forces during World War II.
Moreover, the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee has since its establishment in 2016 had to deal with the KMT’s resistance to return the assets it had misappropriated. In 2016, then-KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said that all of the KMT’s assets were legitimate, adding: “It is a shame that instead of doing what is necessary, the government has launched a political vendetta with no regard of the law.”
With such a delusional outlook, it is no wonder that Chu thinks that the White Terror-era government had nothing to do with the KMT, despite the party resisting calls to change its party emblem — which closely resembles the national flag — and members saying that the similarity is due to the KMT founding the ROC.
Furthermore, KMT Administration and Management Committee director Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) in 2017 argued that gold bonds issued by the ROC government in 1947 — now worth nearly NT$38.5 billion (US$1.38 billion) — were proof of the KMT’s contributions to the nation.
So, was the government of the Martial Law era the KMT, or not? The KMT keeps missing opportunities to connect with the public, despite its waning popularity. Taiwan desperately needs a strong opposition to balance the strength of the DPP, but if the KMT hopes to fill that role, it must strive to be in tune with the public, rather than appeasing its hard-line supporters by cozying up to the Chinese Communist Party while launching arbitrary attacks at home.
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