Kuom­intang is sink­ing, and sink­ing fast


The Kuom­intang has ceased to func­tion as a vi­able po­lit­i­cal party. Again. As anti-Hung Hsiu-chu forces within the party spin the ru­mor mill at full speed with the help of a will­ing media, noth­ing in the party seems safe from the auc­tion­ing block, be it party reg­u­la­tions, pro­ce­dures or val­ues. Adding in­sult to in­jury, no one within seems to know what or to whom the party is be­ing sold to be­yond the priv­i­lege of driv­ing the party fur­ther into its watery grave.

The KMT has cob­bled it­self to­gether in face of past crises. It faced chal­lenges af­ter it was forced out of main­land China af­ter 1949, and af­ter years of un­in­ter­rupted dom­i­na­tion, Lee Teng-hui and democ­racy dealt it another blow in 2000. In both these ex­am­ples, the party sur­vived be­cause painful re­forms were en­acted, re­forms that were nec­es­sary to pre­serve the core prin­ci­ples that some­how went be­yond in­di­vid­ual gain.

With re­ports that Hung’s bid for the pres­i­dency may be wan­ing as pres­sure mounts on her from the party elite, the KMT has shown the Tai­wanese public that it is in­de­ci­sive, prone to throw­ing out the baby with the bath wa­ter, while show­ing no reser­va­tion to sub­se­quently pound that tub hold­ing the wa­ter into smithereens.

While the op­er­a­tion of a mas­sive party like the KMT can­not be achieved by a few good men (or women), any­one look­ing to Chair­man Eric Chu as the sav­ior who could steer the party from chaos to or­der, should re­mem­ber that the party’s predica­ment to­day has three ma­jor com­po­nents.

First and fore­most, the party has not gen­uinely ad­dressed the fail­ures that led to its col­lapse from 2012 to 2014. While Hung’s cam­paign had its fits and starts, it res­onated brightly amongst the greater public (ini­tially) when she vowed to trans­form the party and re­form it from within. In­stead of jump­ing to the task of help­ing the party re­pair the KMT’s storm-bat­tered hull how­ever, anti-Hung forces have tried to un­der­mine her from the start by trum­pet­ing her mis­steps and dis­avow­ing their con­nec­tion to the party’s de­cline.

Se­condly, the lead­er­ship while speak­ing of unity within the party has done noth­ing to shore up their can­di­date aside from the oc­ca­sional photo op. Like rats scur­ry­ing from a sink­ing ship, they have put in­di­vid­ual sur­vival above all else, for­get­ting the es­sen­tial strength of a party lies in con­sen­sus build­ing, re­spon­si­ble gov­er­nance and the de­fend­ing of core val­ues. Even if the ul­ti­mate aims to bring forth a more “vi­able” can­di­date to re­place Hung is achieved, the costs en­sure that vic­tory is a pyrrhic one at best. By show­ing the public its dis­re­gard to its own com­rades, the KMT re­flects that it is will­ing to trade any­thing nec­es­sary for lever­age against its ri­vals. This speaks vol­umes on how such a party may gov­ern an en­tire na­tion.

Fi­nally, the forces of hubris within the party have out­ma­neu­vered the forces of re­flec­tion. The rul­ing party may be dogged by slump­ing polling num­bers, but it is ei­ther too proud or too cow­ardly to rea­son why the peo­ple are al­most ready to for­sake its lead­er­ship for another al­ter­na­tive. Trust seems to be the miss­ing in­gre­di­ent here, and if any­thing, this plot to re­move Hung em­bla­zons “un­trust­wor­thi­ness” on the party name in ways po­ten­tially more far reach­ing than the past eight years un­der the Ma ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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