Eric Chu reaps what he sows in KMT pres­i­den­tial can­di­date change fi­asco

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY ALAN FONG

As the found­ing party of Asia’s old­est re­pub­lic, the Kuom­intang (KMT) has re­mained in­no­va­tive de­spite its long history. Yesterday the party pi­o­neered the idea of force­fully re­mov­ing its own pres­i­den­tial can­di­date three months prior to Elec­tion Day. One needs to think out­side the di­men­sion of where the box is in to come up with such a cre­ative self-gov­ern­ing idea.

The KMT’s Cen­tral Stand­ing Com­mit­tee passed a pe­ti­tion, signed by 27 com­mit­tee mem­bers and ap­proved by all, to call for an ex­tra­or­di­nary party congress where the party will re­place can­di­date Hung Hsiu-chu ( ) with party Chair­man Eric Chu ( ). Due to Hung’s sta­tus as the KMT’s right­ful can­di­date and her ex­pressed wish not to quit, the party could be fac­ing a le­git­i­macy and po­ten­tial le­gal cri­sis if Hung took her case to the court. A pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s lawyers up against her party? How in­no­va­tive!

The KMT chair­man is reap­ing what he sows as his re­luc­tance to ei­ther join the fray or to sort things out for Hung has led to the cur­rent fi­asco. Hung has been con­sis­tent in view­ing her cam­paign as a means to bring the party back to its core (which for her means mainly deep blue) val­ues. Mean­while, KMT law­mak­ers in con­stituen­cies out­side the party’s strongholds in North­ern Tai­wan are also con­sis­tent in warn­ing that a deep-blue can­di­date such as Hung would spell dis­as­ter for their cam­paigns. Nev­er­the­less, Chu and other party heavy­weights threw their half-hearted sup­port be­hind her, mainly be­cause she was the only can­di­date will­ing to be in the pri­mary. The party lead­ers in­tended to save them­selves the trou­ble of cam­paign­ing in a race they know they are go­ing to lose. In their best­case sce­nario, Hung would be the foil in KMT’s de­feat in 2016 while they would lead the party to fight back in fu­ture elec­tions.

What Chu did not ex­pect was the ex­tent of Hung’s un­pop­u­lar­ity among po­ten­tial KMT vot­ers in Cen­tral and South­ern Tai­wan and the pres­sure KMT leg­isla­tive can­di­dates put on him to re­place Hung.

Hung’s de­fi­ant stance is only half of the rea­son for her un­pop­u­lar­ity. In­stead of giv­ing Hung the re­sources and guid­ance she needs to ex­pand her sup­port base and run an ef­fec­tive cam­paign, Chu and other party lead­ers have kept their dis­tance since the day she was nom­i­nated. The party might be fo­cus­ing its fire­power on the rel­a­tively winnable leg­isla­tive elec­tions. Party heavy­weights might also find it hard for them to help build Hung’s strength and see her be­com­ing their po­ten­tial ri­val in the fu­ture.

Chu’s de­ci­sion to re­move Hung af­ter the can­di­date passed all the pri­mary polls and “anti-brick” clause is an ex­tremely and uglily cyn­i­cal one. It shows the party’s ut­ter dis­re­gard of prin­ci­ples and rules, even those of its own. It is far from cer­tain that re­plac­ing an un­wanted can­di­date in such an un­sa­vory way would bring any­thing good for the party. The chair­man’s only hope is that KMT sup­port­ers are as cyn­i­cal as the party is.

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