Will the KMT Bring Down Ma?
The KMT is fundamentally a divided party in the midst of a crisis that dates back to the death of Chiang Ching-guo, and nothing illustrates this better than the constant whispering against Ma Ying-jeou. Consider the recent spate of media reports in the Chinese and English press about how the KMT is going to run Lien Chan (again!) for the Presidency in 2008, with either Wang or Ma at his side:
According to the newspaper report, plan A would be for Lien and Ma to pair up for the presidential election. The KMT would then push a constitutional amendment and change the governmental system to a parliamentary one so that the main authority would be the premier.
As part of that supposed plan, the prime candidate for the post of premier would be Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
Plan B would pair Lien and Wang for the presidential ticket, with Ma becoming premier once the KMT returned to power.
Huang said he he had not heard of such plans and urged KMT members to stick together during the current crisis, referring to Ma's alleged involvement in the misuse of the Taipei mayor's special allowance fund.
The KMT has denied that any of this discussion has taken place, but the denials do not sound very convincing, at least to my ear. Note several things I've discussed before -- the fundamental split here is between the Deep Blue ideologues, whose man at the moment is KMT Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, and the KMT Machine politicians like current legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng and two-time presidential loser Lien Chan, now the Party's Grand Old Man. At the moment the group of KMT legislators known as the "southern legislators" (read Taiwanese KMT) is allied to the machine politicians (David at Jujuflop reported on them earlier this year) against the "Ma troop" -- the pro-Ma KMT legislators in the legislature. Wang is also very close to pan-Blue ally and PFP Chairman James Soong, who has been very critical of Ma, his main rival for Deep Blue support, and who has a deep base of support within the rival KMT. How does Ma stand with the KMT Machine? After Ma was elected Chairman in July of 2005, the Taipei Times noted:
Ma has long been isolated from the party's central administration, said analysts, pointing out that many of the party's upper-level officials, from over 60 of its legislators to high-level administrative officers such as the party's Central Executive Committee head Chang Che-shen (張哲琛), expressed support for Wang during his campaign.The Machine does not like Ma -- and many will take note of the fact that Ma's favorite lost the KMT nomination for mayor, beaten by Hau Lung-bin, whose father is the corrupt old KMT authoritarian Hau Pei-tsun, who tried to stop Lee Teng-hui's democratization program. And now that Ma has shown poor judgment in handling the mayoral funds (I've always said that streak of arrogance of his might be his downfall) the whispering against him within the KMT will only be gain traction. Recall too that Ma beat Wang badly in the KMT chairmanship election last year, and Wang has been itching for revenge. Further, recall that Wang is not an elected politician -- he holds his position in the legislature because he was appointed as one of the KMT's at-large candidates, a tribute to his excellent standing with the Party insiders, who are mostly Machine politicians. When the legislature shrinks in 2007, Wang might have a much harder time gaining a seat. Hence his interest in securing another future.
Another issue, somewhat separate, relates to the KMT's struggle to destroy the Presidency. President Lee made two important changes in the 1990s. First, he made the Presidency directly-elected -- to prevent rival Hau Pei-tsun from defeating him in an election controlled by Party insiders -- and second, he made the premier appointed by the President instead of appointed out of the legislature. By doing so, he accrued more power to the Presidency. A directly-elected President and a Presidential system gives the advantage to the DPP, which does well at the national level, while a parliamentary system with the Premier selected by the Parliament gives the advantage the KMT, which still controls the local level elections. Observe then, that the KMT's plan, according to the media, would be:
"The KMT would then push a constitutional amendment and change the governmental system to a parliamentary one so that the main authority would be the premier."Just as I've been saying all along.
Finally, as a longtime democracy supporter, I continue to marvel at the Blue (KMT + PFP) capacity to snatch defeat from potential victory. In 2000 and 2004 they blew elections they were heavily favored to win by running Lien Chan, who running as the KMT candidate in 2000 barely mustered a quarter of the vote. Lien is probably the most widely detested major politician in Taiwan, widely perceived as ugly and uncongenial, and identified as a wife beater several years ago. The KMT could hardly do worse than to pick Lien as its candidate for 2008. But with Ma now taking hits, first from the Shih Ming-te anti-Chen campaign, which exposed Ma as irresolute and hypocritical, and now from the receipt forgery case, Ma may be looking vulnerable to KMT insiders. Look for more ghosts from the Machine making nightmares for Ma Ying-jeou.
[Taiwan] [KMT] [Democracy] [DPP] [PFP] [media] [Ma Ying-jeou]