Friday, April 22, 2016

Hung digs in her reactionary heels

The Rift Valley

Is new KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu bringing in young talent, technocrats, and practical politicians who can make the KMT powerful again? Is she going to Taiwanize the KMT? So far, things look grim if you're pro-China, and sweet if you're pro-Taiwan. This week she made far-right ideologue Alex Tsai head of the KMT's central policy committee (TT)....
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) was yesterday appointed director of the KMT’s Central Policy Committee, becoming the first non-lawmaker to take up the key role of coordinator between the party’s central headquarters and its legislative caucus.

Tsai’s appointment was approved by the KMT Central Standing Committee at a closed-door meeting yesterday afternoon presided over by KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who said her decision to choose Tsai for the post was made in accordance with the needs of the party.

Traditionally, the director of the Central Policy Committee also doubles as the KMT’s caucus whip, to ensure that the stance of the caucus is aligned with that of the party leadership.

However, this will not be the case for Tsai, after the KMT caucus reached a consensus earlier this month to separate the two roles to increase the autonomy of the legislative caucus.
Tsai, readers may recall, ran the comical campaign of KMT princeling Sean Lien for mayor of Taipei. Lien was crushed by current Mayor Ko Wen-je. Solidarity's description of Tsai is dead on:
KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has chosen the most contentious candidate possible, oft-discredited sinophile troll Alex Tsai (蔡正元), as director of the KMT’s Central Policy Committee. With Tsai the putative chief strategist for the legislative and council caucuses and local governments alike, the party could become both more contentious and narrower in appeal.
No sooner had Tsai taken his new seat then he was on the warpath spewing nonsensical Chen Shui-bian era KMT propaganda:
An interview yesterday with POP Radio, Tsai accused the DPP of trying to launch “green terror,” saying the DPP’s draft transitional justice promotion act was part of its efforts to exert control over both the administrative and legislative branches of the government.

“The DPP is attempting to turn itself into a ‘constitutional monster,’ so it can conduct a political purge against the KMT. This is standard ‘green terror,’” Tsai said in the interview.

The draft act calls for the establishment of a transitional justice promotion committee under the Executive Yuan responsible for making political documents available to the public, removal of authoritarian symbols, redressing judicial injustice and management of the KMT’s ill-gotten party assets.

Turning to the DPP’s proposed bill on monitoring cross-strait agreements, Tsai said prominent Sunflower movement activist Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) only verbally protested the proposed bill, which clings to the idea of “one country, two areas.”

“Lin should have occupied the Legislative Yuan… His failure to do so only underscores the fact that the ‘sunflower’ has withered,” Tsai said, adding that the ideals of the Sunflower movement could not withstand the test of time.
The "green terror" is a reference to the "white terror" period of martial law, in which thousands of people who ran afoul of the KMT were imprisoned, tortured, and even killed by the KMT government. There is a deep, visceral fear among many older Blues that someday they are going to be called to account for their crimes. Thus, this code language is brought out by Deep Blues like Tsai whenever their colonial symbols or powers are threatened. Tsai also took a swat at the Sunflowers, which was good, because if they KMT had any sense they'd be cultivating the Sunflowers as a possible weapon against the DPP, or at least, leaving them alone. But thanks for reminding them, Alex, where the KMT really stands.

The key point is actually in the last two paragraphs I've excerpted there: the greater "autonomy" of KMT legislators implies that they are distancing themselves from the center of the party, which is likely to continue on its reactionary course with Hung in charge. Because so many of the chairmanship voters are reactionary deep Blue voters, Hung is likely to get a five year term late next summer just before the Jan 2018 9-in-1 elections. She might be forced to resign then if the KMT is blown out. But until then, to keep their seats, KMT legislators might be forced into public disagreements with Chairman Hung because they are practical politicians engaged in assuring the flow of resources to their patronage networks, while Hung has other, more grandiose plans. Clearly they are struggling to wriggle out from under her control, clearly she will struggle to keep them under her thumb.

Watching the legislators of both major parties struggle against central control is going to be a major source of entertainment and frustration for Taiwan political junkies of all stripes...

Solidarity translated a UDN report that emphasized this point by noting Hung's desire to bring everything under control of the center.
Although Hung has stated she supports the caucus’s autonomy, party figures reveal that she has already privately approached experienced legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) and current de facto caucus whip Lin Teh-fu (林德福) about running for the new convener position. Fai politely declined Hung’s invitation, and Lin has fallen into deep thought after losing the big battle over approval of the transitional justice bill Tuesday.

Regarding Hung’s personnel appointments, an experienced legislator stated frankly that Hung’s method is to create a “Leninist party” by wiping out the remnants of “internal reconstruction” (內造化, a cause celebre of the Taiwanese faction) and implementing total “party leadership of the government.” In the future, the Central Policy Committee director will be like “the party secretary hanging over the head of the mayor” in communist countries. The committee director will be the true warlord, as can be inferred from the clues in Tsai’s remarks yesterday, the legislator said.

A KMT legislator said that the party is too far separated from public opinion, and in the future “each will choose his own path.” Even if the party mobilizes legislators through the caucus leadership in the future, party legislators will still keep the pros and cons in terms of managing their own districts in mind when making decisions on what to support.
The KMT, if it wants to come back into power, desperately needs to bring in Taiwanese and move them into positions of authority. Yet, there is Hung, still fighting to ensure that the non-mainstream (deep Blue reactionary) KMT wins over the mainstream (Taiwanese) KMT and fighting to impose top-down, centralized control on the Party.

One thing Ma Ying-jeou did to reduce the possibility of party elites quietly arraying themselves against him was to set up parallel internal KMT bodies like the Zhongshan Council which operated directly under him, and to reduce the authority of the central standing committee. When Eric Chu became Chair, he eliminated the Zhongshan Council and returned the central standing committee to power. Expect similar moves by either/both of (1) Hung in attempting to suppress elite opposition to her authority; (2) rival groups of bigwigs out to fight her authority; and (3) individual KMT heavyweights who are seeking to become Chairman and need some kind of quasi-institutional veneer for gathering support from the party ranks.
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blobOfNeurons said...

There is a deep, visceral fear among many older Blues that someday they are going to be called to account for their crimes.

And is that fear unjustified?

les said...

It's perfect. A legislator who wouldn't know the truth if he fell over it, target of a recall campaign that drew more support than any before it, a man who's hatred for democracy in general and youth in particular that he runs over journalists in his limo. A man who for much of his career was always one of the top two contenders for most-universally-despised legislator. A figure so toxic even KMT couldn't even run him for the legislature again. So what to do with him? Yes, put him in a position where he can attempt to control the actions of the last handful of blue legislators, in order to prevent them from doing will of the constituents that elected them. How very democratic. How very public-spirited. Noone could ever accuse Hong Shiuchu of populism eh?

Michael Turton said...

Yes, its puuurrrrfect!