Friday, March 06, 2015

KMTitanic: Iceberg in sight, no change of course

Cooking chicken for a popular restaurant

Rose: Next it will be brandies in the smoking room.
Col. Archibald Gracie: Join me in a brandy, gentlemen?
Rose: Now they will retreat into a cloud of smoke and congratulate each other on being masters of the universe.

So much to tell about the KMT this week...

Up on the bridge, Eric Chu, Chairman of the good ship KMTitanic has been struggling to marginalize and supplant President and Honorary KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and take control of the KMT.

The axis of dispute is the case of Wang Jin-pyng, the Speaker of the Legislature who is obsessively hated by Ma Ying-jeou but whose support Eric Chu absolutely must have if he is to prevent the KMT from sailing to disaster in 2016. Wang is widely seen as the leader of the Taiwanese KMT, who were quite disgruntled by President Ma's accusation that Wang engaged in influence peddling and his subsequent attempts to have Wang kicked out of the KMT for influence peddling. Wang sued to retain his party membership, and won twice. The KMT appealed twice.

The case is now before the Supreme Court, but Eric Chu has said that the KMT will not pursue the matter further (As of yesterday the Supreme Court said that it must, The KMT news organ says that since Ma no longer has standing since he is not the Chairman, the Court says the KMT must appoint another representative.). The key point is that Chu has, by bringing Wang back in, marginalized Ma. That point is decisive. The KMT is now Chu's.

The KMT news organ translated a China Times editorial on the situation. Interestingly, when you read the whole editorial, it seems to suggest that the paper's writers think Ma was correct in attacking Wang Jin-pyng...
In September the year before, during the influence peddling scandal, President Ma was viewed as a disputant. As a result, his push for legislation forbidding the “obstruction of justice" lacked legitimacy. Chu is in a different position. He had no part in the September controversy. He is in a better position than President Ma to demand reforms. If Chu can make influence peddling illegal, he will have seized the moral high ground from President Ma. President Ma is constrained by political realities. All he can do is take a stand. Chu can implement reforms. This is the only way to let the people see that besides “peace supreme”, the KMT deserves its support.

This would constitute a positive response to President Ma's persistence quest for Right and Wrong. It would help mend relations between Ma and Chu. Of course, one must also consider Wang Jin-pyng's feelings. Chu can make clear to Wang that this is not about Wang personally, but rather reforms necessary to ensure the integrity of the government and lasting peace of the nation. Wang Jin-pyng has emerged victorious in the party struggle. He should display magnanimity and let the matter slide. Besides, familial harmony must not apply only to Wang, and it must also apply to Ma. President Ma's popularity may be low. But the 8% to 15% who support him are KMT loyalists. If these supporters feel betrayed, a KMT victory is even less likely.

Third, President Ma should relinquish all control. He should allow Eric Chu to guide the 2016 election. He can do this in two ways. The first pertains to the Wang Jin-pyng party membership litigation case. President Ma has already gone on record and spoken his piece. He must now relinquish control and allow Eric Chu to deal with the matter, for better or worse. Second, he might as well dispense with the formality of the party-government meetings and prove that he has relinquished control. He should concentrate on doing what a president should do. He should interact with the public more, enabling them to understand his policy prescriptions and years of hard work. He should avoid any further involvement in party and electoral affairs. Critics may question President Ma's magnanimity. But that would be preferable to maintaining the pretense of a substantive meeting, only to give critics occasions for ridicule.
Note how the editorial writer expects that Ma will continue to challenge Chu for control. As the Wang case proved, a mess in which Ma went absolutely nuts, claiming that Wang was corrupt and demanding he be tossed from the KMT, Ma has a powerful and vicious vindictive streak. It seems very unlikely to me that Ma is simply going to roll over and play nice. The editorial writer seems a bit nervous about what Ma will do...

WantWant published a piece that said that Chu had Brought Ma into Line. Commenting on a public appearance in which Ma, Wang, and Chu sang Kumbaya, it said:
The president's appearance beside both Chu and Wang suggests that, publicly at least, they have put their differences aside. Chu welcomed Ma in person to the event and sat between the president and Wang, stating that differences between people within one party were inevitable, but that consensus can still be reached as long as they respect each other and communicate.

KMT legislators were not ready to drop their beef with Ma, however, and are said to have let rip at the president during the question and answer session, telling him that his concerns were not in line with those of the party and that he should be more tolerant and reign in his temper.

In his concluding remarks, Ma did not restate his oft-trotted out comments on the KMT being a party that knows the difference between right and wrong–a not-so-subtle jibe at Wang Jin-pyng–and instead said that he would support Chu's party reform efforts and unity within the party. Chu stated that a line had been drawn under the conflict within the party and that it did not need to be brought up again.
A few remarks from the KMT lawmakers towards Ma are in this Taipei Times piece.

We saw a couple of weeks ago that Chu did nothing to reform the KMT's leadership, appointing essentially the same kind of people to head the local party organizations (KMTitanic I). Another possibility for imaginative leadership reform passed when Chang Ching-chung was renamed convener of the Internal Administration Committee. Chang was the one whose attempt to circumvent democratic procedure in passing the services pact triggered the occupation of the legislature...
The eight legislative standing committees elected their respective conveners yesterday, with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), who attempted to ram through the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement in March last year, sparking the Sunflower movement, being re-elected as one of the two conveners of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee amid objections.
...and so the KMTitanic sails on into the night...  KMT heavyweight and former Taipei mayor Hau Long-bin has promised that the party list legislators will be significantly different in the next election.

Major events like Chu marginalizing Ma have their lighter moments. A headline described that Ma had listened to the people in the KMTitanic steerage on the Wang issue: President Ma says he has heard voices on Wang membership flap.

Finally, what's the long term looking like? One of my favorite Twitter denizens, FormosaNation, posted this graph from a TISR poll on Twitter:

This is TISR's tracking poll of party identification in Taiwan. Note the spike in green for the pan-Greens and the longterm collapse in the pan-Blues from its peak in 2008. The pan-Greens are at 35%, the Blues, only 25% and slumping. The DPP is at 28% in the party ID poll, the KMT, at just 19%.

In case you were wondering, once again several times Chu said he wasn't running for President. And once again Wang said he hadn't even considered it. Hard to imagine who they will run if Chu doesn't run (and for the Veep?). Lots of people are calling for a KMT unity ticket of Chu for Prez and Wang as veep...
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Tommy said...

The most interesting thing I see in that last graph is that the people who do not state their affiliation are at a record low. Note that in 2004, those who did not state their affiliation spiked. This is also at the last time the greens were higher than the blues. The fact that there was a spike at that moment suggests that there were a lot of KMTers not responding, which, in turn, suggests that the green support was not as relatively high as the graph would make it seem.

Now, the number of people not stating affiliation is at a low AND the greens are up and the blues are down. This looks to be more of a real change than a blip caused by temporary embarrassment on the part of blues. said...

But wait there's more! Tonight Jiang Yi-huah was named a senior adviser to the presidential office!

d said...

I think it might be the opposite dream team - Wang/Chu. That would play well to the anti-Ma camp and the pro-localization camp. Chu would need to secure the old core - but only to the extent that it mattered. My concern is how much of the shift to green would shift back to a pro-localization KMT presidential ticket, even while staying on the DPP side of legislature choices.