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Ma-Wang Differences Spells Trouble for KMT

Ma-Wang Differences Spells Trouble for KMT

As Ma Ying-jeou maintained his innocence regarding his special fund case as mayor of Taipei before the courts, Legislative Speaker Wang Jyn-ping announced he would not take part in Kuomintang (KMT) presidential primaries. While Wang has yet to exclude the possibility of running as an independent candidate, his announcement was seen as more of way to tell the party he was not interested in becoming Ma’s running mate. This in fact marks the beginning of disputes for the KMT.
The likelihood of a Ma-Wang ticket was slim from the start. This despite the fact that before hearings over his special fund case began, Ma put forth the following criteria for a running mate: native Taiwanese, either gender acceptable, political heavyweight from either central or southern Taiwan, able to complement each other and has the ability to step up as head of state if need be. These requirements seem to be tailor-made for Wang, but underlying the comments was that if Wang did not accept the invitation, then Ma would have to find another suitable running mate. This in essence was a ploy, as Ma was saying he was offering Wang a spot on the ticket, it’s just that Wang didn’t want it, which is tantamount to a formal rejection on Ma’s part. After Ma cam out with his criteria for a running mate, Wang responded in no uncertain terms saying he was not interested. Ma’s registered alone for the primaries and now the selection of a future running mate is completely in his hands, leaving Wang with few other alternatives.
Moreover, Wang has gone one step further in declaring all out war on Ma. Wang has called into question rules for the presidential primaries, saying they seem to be tailored-made for one person. He also reminded the KMT standing committee to pay attention to the problem of party assets, the litigation surrounding Ma’s special fund case and governing minority groups in Taiwan, three issues that are seen as shaping the upcoming presidential race in 2008. Wang made these admonitions as direct attacks on Ma, even going as far to quote Japanese scholars that said the KMT runs on a “patron retinue system.” He said that if the KMT continued in its inability to face the problem of the governing of minority groups, then it would directly affect the outcome of legislative and presidential elections. He said the proclamation by voters from southern Taiwan that they would never put a Mainlander in the president’s office would seem mild by comparison. These comments touched upon the crux of the problem for the KMT, laying bare questions surrounding Ma’s moral integrity as well. It is little wonder that KMT members reacted against Wang’s outbursts, as even his long-time ally Hong Hsiu-chu has had to distance herself from Wang’s comments. But the normally prudent Wang would never have said what he did unless he was resolved to risk everything to lay bare his thoughts.
Wang’s call for the KMT central standing committee to heed these three big issues is in fact a reflection of his indignation and dissatisfaction as well as a desperate attack on the party. He suspects the party’s presidential primaries were tailor-made for Ma to win from the beginning. It is a fact that the KMT party machine favors Ma, so Wang doesn’t want any part of a competition taking place on an uneven playing field. If Wang came out now as Ma’s running mate, that would just be giving people reason to suspect backroom dealing. Wang’s best bet now is to take a wait and see approach, sitting back quietly to watch if any changes in the situation occur. This is why he has yet to exclude the possibility of running for president as an independent candidate.
It remains to be seen whether Ma can emerge from his special fund case unscathed. But like TVBS executive Lee Tao’s journalistic reputation suffered after the incident of the station’s fabricated news became public, Ma’s own image faces the same challenge and this might harm his chances in next year’s election. But Wang’s warnings are even more harsh than any attacks coming from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as they are emanating from a KMT insider. Wang’s call to expedite the return of KMT assets to the Taiwanese people is an issue dear to the hearts of DPP members. Now that Wang has, at least in part, come out as a sympathizer to DPP causes, no one within the KMT dares calling for a Ma-Wang ticket again. As it obvious now that any reconciliation between Ma and Wang is impossible, a Taiwanese adage seems appropriate: “even the gods can do nothing to salvage the situation.” Ma may have ensured his spot on the KMT ballot as a the party’s presidential candidate of choice, but at the same time the inter-party clashes may have raised the curtain on a tragedy in the making.

Translated by Steven Marsh


Updated : 2021-07-24 20:21 GMT+08:00