Kuom­intang lead­er­ship con­tin­ues to court nar­cis­sism


Even as pop­u­lar­ity rises for its dark-horse can­di­date Hung Hsi­uchu, t he KMT party lead­er­ship con­tin­ues to put nar­row cal­cu­la­tions above larger goals.

For months, t he rul­ing Kuom­intang has been en­sconced in the dol­drums of de­feat, in­de­ci­sion and false pre­cepts. Fol­low­ing ma­jor elec­toral de­feat in 2014, the party has re­mained list­less, feel­ing the fleet­ing em­bers of grat­i­fi­ca­tion only when crit­i­ciz­ing DPP pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Tsai Ing-wen. It is a party with a hi­er­ar­chy that has cho­sen to opt out be­fore the con­test, its lead­ers cow­er­ing from tak­ing a stand.

And though the beat­ing of an un­fa­mil­iar drum has gained mo­men­tum in the past few days with the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of Hung Hsiu-chu, the party con­tin­ues to give off a waft that vot­ers are only too familiar with: this is not the char­ac­ter of a vi­able, not to say trust­wor­thy rul­ing party.

For its Lead­ers, Rules are Only


With days be­fore a party-sanc­tioned opin­ion poll to de­ter­mine the el­i­gi­bil­ity of Hung, Leg­isla­tive Speaker Wang Jin-pyng dropped a glar­ing hint that the party could, if it should wish to, draft him as the KMT pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for which he would feel obliged to ac­cept. If called to run, the “duty-bound” Wang would have the party’s war chest to use at his de­cree, us­ing “party unity” as a shield against those who ad­vo­cate a pri­mary process more in line with demo­cratic prin­ci­ples.

Hung took th­ese re­marks in stride: her soar­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the past weeks, al­beit from a low base, sug­gests that it is highly likely she will pass the opin­ion poll thresh­old. But Wang’s ac­tions are in­dica­tive of a lead­er­ship that calls “unity and sol­i­dar­ity,” yet re­mains open to frac­tious ac­tion, vac­il­lat­ing be­tween “run­ning a pri­mary ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tions” or assent­ing to the will of its “Alis­ters.”

Party Unity Only in Name

Party Chair­man Eric Chu fares no bet­ter. Chu put cal­cu­la­tions of his po­lit­i­cal sur­vival above party ne­ces­sity. While vot­ers are used to politi­cians break­ing their prom­ises in the face of greater op­por­tu­ni­ties, Chu’s vow to hold onto the may­oralty of New Taipei has much more to do with weigh- ing his chances of electabil­ity in 2020 than the hon­or­able ef­forts of hold­ing up a cam­paign prom­ise. Much like Wang, Chu’s no­tion of sol­i­dar­ity is a nar­row vi­sion of its re­sources and man­power at his dis­posal as the party’s sav­ior.

Wang and Chu have both forgotten that their ini­tial ac­qui­es­cence has al­ready tainted them to the party base as naked op­por­tunists. It is too late for them to emerge as the res­cuers of a predica­ment that they have largely or­ches­trated. Hung has now steadily built her rep­u­ta­tion as a can­di­date with pas­sion, op­ti­mism and a sure-fire at­ti­tude in spite of the odds: ev­ery thing the lead­er­ship has es­chewed.

Whether the KMT can avoid fum­bling their best card in a worstcase sce­nario will de­pend squarely on whether Hung’s “Cin­derella” story is al­lowed to run its course.

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