Tuesday, November 06, 2012

KMT Internal Troubles Episode #11578

Lining up at a famous traditional tofu pudding place in Tianzhong.

A few months have passed, so it's once more time for another episode of KMT Internal Struggles. This week's installment was chronicled in the Taipei Times.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday downplayed controversial remarks by Sean Lien (連勝文), son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), saying that while they may be well-intentioned, some could be misinterpreted.

Yin was referring to comments by Sean Lien on Saturday that the majority of Taiwanese, except for those who are politically oriented, could not care less about who will run for Taipei mayor in the seven-in-one elections in 2014 and that whoever is elected in the midst of a sluggish domestic economy “could be, at the very most, the master of a beggar clan.”

Sean Lien, who doubles as the deputy director of the Taipei City Government’s Economic Development Commission, also called on the government to prioritize propping up the lackluster domestic economy.
The internal bickering is over the Taipei mayoral position. Despite Lien's sneering comments, the position of mayor of Taipei is immensely powerful and is generally seen as a stepping-stone to the Presidency. The Taipei Times editorialized that 'the sneers spelled trouble'...
At the meetings of the party’s Central Committee and Central Advisory Committee, all statements and propositions seemed to be directed at public policy issues such as the capital gains tax on securities transactions and the retirement pensions issue. However, these are some of the policies of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, so when Central Committee members and members of the Central Advisory Committee discussed these policies, they were in fact ambushing Ma.

One of the speakers, William Hsu (徐弘庭), the Central Committee member suggesting the implementation of the capital gains tax be delayed, is special assistant to Sean Lien (連勝文), the son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰). The implications are self-evident. Neither of the two Liens attended the Central Committee meeting, but while attending an Aboriginal activity, Sean Lien said that if the economy does not improve, we will all be beggars regardless of who is elected. This was clearly not appreciated by party leadership.

Furthermore, senior advisor to the president Chao Shou-po (趙守博), who reviewed the pension system, has long been an important associate of Lien Chan, and before the meeting, Chen Keng-chin (陳庚金), another old Lien associate, criticized Ma’s use of people. It is clear that the Lien family are finding it impossible to hide their dissatisfaction with how Ma is running things.

Another former party leader, Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), said that observers were criticizing Ma for picking his appointments from too narrow a group of people and that this had caused some people supporting the KMT to leave the party. Although he avoided criticizing Ma directly, everyone got the hint: Wu’s faction within the KMT is also dissatisfied with Ma’s performance.
What it boils down to is simple: the criticism from the Lien family and its hangers-on, and former Chairman Wu Po-hsiung, simply reflects old fault lines in the Party. Ma's strongest support isn't from Party mainlander elites and other core members, from the rank and file who originally saw him as new blood that would reinvigorate the Party. When Ma first ran for Chair many years ago, Party elites supported his onetime rival Wang Jyn-ping, currently Legislative Speaker. It was the rank and file who got Ma into power. There's nothing new going on; sometimes when the Party is under stress, these structural fault-lines are revealed. Perhaps the complaints about Ma's appointments merely indicate anger that Ma has not appointed enough people from among those factions.

The editorial claimed that "the opposition between Ma and senior leaders is now out in the open." Actually, it's been this way the whole of Ma's service as President. Accusations of being out of touch, and appointing only from a narrow spectrum of people, are nothing new. Nor is criticism from other party heavyweights. There's nothing permanent here, no change or evolution indicated, and the KMT, with all that cash, isn't at risk of falling apart or splitting.
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1 comment:

Carlos said...

I'm surprised to learn that the party elite preferred Wang Jyn-ping. I thought Ma's ideology was more in line with theirs.