KMT to become ‘lean and mean election machine’

The China Post staff

The main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) will convert itself into an “election machine,” with the winning of political power as the ultimate goal, a senior party official said yesterday. “Hereafter, the KMT will no longer do anything that is not related to elections or the party’s sustainable development,” KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng said at the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting. Lin said in a report on the KMT’s restructuring plan that the party will not only trim its organization and staff but would also change the content of its work and operational methods. “We must realistically face reality. We are no longer a ruling party and do not have any administrative resources. We cannot afford to get involved in every line of business any more,” Lin said, adding that the KMT must evolve into a “lean and mean” organization with winning political elections as its top working goal.

In preparation for the critical 2004 presidential election, Lin said, the party will launch a “2004 Project Hope” to inject new blood into the party apparatus. “We must recruit young talent to form a brand new campaign team as early as possible in order to win the pivotal election,” Lin stressed. As part of the “2004 Project Hope,” Lin said, KMT Chairman Lien Chan will start an islandwide community reachout trip aimed at forging close ties to people. In addition, Lien will also launch a journey to meet with young people around the island to listen to their opinions. Lin encouraged senior party workers to step up reforms so that the party can project a new image to win the support of young people. Meanwhile, Lin said, the KMT will recruit volunteers to fill the vacuum caused by the massive layoffs of full-time party workers. “The only recipe for staying afloat in the rapidly changing world is to change constantly,” he added. Speaking after Lin’s report at the meeting, KMT Chairman Lien outlined certain unchanging principles in the party’s pursuit of change — its fight for the country’s development and the people’s well-being and its search for peace, freedom and prosperity.

Lien also urged party workers to shed their out-dated mindsets and press ahead with party reform, adding that the party will rue the day if it drags its feet on restructuring.

At yesterday’s meeting, a number of KMT Central Standing Committee members also expressed their views on President Chen Shui-bian’s recent statement that if Beijing would not make positive response to Taiwan’s goodwill, Taiwan should consider “going its own way.” Tseng Yung-chuan, chief executive of the KMT’s policy coordination commission, said legislative caucuses of ruling and opposition parties already reached a consensus that the government must finalize legal revisions by the end of November to pave the way for the opening of direct transportation links across the Taiwan Strait. “I’m worried that Chen’s tough talk might hinder preparatory work for opening direct cross-strait transportation links,” Tseng said, adding that the president should refrain from making rash comments that could hurt the national interest. Chang Jung-kung, director of the KMT’s mainland affairs department, said Chen’s remarks reflected his intention to press for Taiwan independence. In his view, Chang said, it is unwise and unrealistic for Chen to make such remarks. “Chen has repeatedly said he is unlikely to misjudge the cross-strait situation, but, in fact, he has frequently committed such an error.” Ting Shou-chung, chairman of the KMT’s Taipei chapter, said that as an opposition party, the KMT should fulfill its mission of supervising government operations. “Therefore, we do not need to dance to Chen’s beat and should not take part in the Chen-proposed cross-party summit meeting to endorse his pro-independence policy line,” he added.