Wang fails to define position

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Editorial

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, a potential contender for the next leadership of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and also possibly its 2008 presidential candidate, has the necessity to unequivocally define his own views on the issue of localization, a theme he touched on lately on a number of occasions.

Talking to the press on Sunday, Wang said that Taiwan needs the KMT, for without the party’s “moderate localization route” working to counter the “radical localization route” of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan could face irremediable consequences. The talk of the DPP’s “radical localization route” and the likely risks it may present is clear and comprehensible without any question. As most understand that for the DPP, the word localization means that any local residents must identify with Taiwan and, moreover, support independence for Taiwan. Such a policy is of course radical as it tends to provoke military retaliation by Beijing. What is unclear is the so-called “moderate localization route” of the KMT. Does this mean that the KMT is now also supporting Taiwan independence, but that it only wants the cause to be realized in a less radical or non-confrontational manner?

But this does not seem to be the case. The public has never learned that the KMT has come to embrace the concept of independence. If not, then what is the content of the KMT’s localization route? Wang needs to clarify the issue in the interests of the public ahead of the year-end legislative elections. On another occasion when he discussed the KMT’s succession issue, Wang said that if fellow KMT politician, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, wants to contend for the future chairmanship of the party, he would certainly be willing to render support for him. However, Wang quickly added that whoever is to head the KMT must ensure that he will persist with the localization route and must show a resolve to reform, stressing that what he cared most about is the course of Taiwan’s future. What is involved here is not just a need for Wang to explain the meaning of the localization concept. He also may have to dispel public speculation that might have been raised by his suggestion for Ma. Wang, a native Taiwanese, seemed to indicate that he and Ma, a second-generation mainlander born in Hong Kong, are divided in their views about the political future of Taiwan. In a chat with reporters on Monday, Wang revealed that former President Lee Teng-hui had both directly and indirectly expressed a desire for him to take over the KMT in the event that its current chairman Lien Chan, who has filed a string of lawsuits to challenge the legitimacy of President Chen Shui-bian’s re-election, steps down later this year or early next. According to Wang, Lee’s view is that a KMT led by a native politician like the speaker would be able to turn the party into a second major Taiwanese party after the DPP. This would create an environment favorable for the two native political forces to engage in benign competition. Aside from extending his “gratitude” to the former KMT chairman and expressing his “respect” for him, Wang seemed to take Lee’s remarks without even a slight amount of skepticism. This is inconceivable. Wang failed to defend his party. When Lee suggested that he should take up the reigns of the KMT and reorganize it into a “Taiwanese” party that would pursue the localization route, he was attempting to weaken the party by broadening the divide between the native-born and mainlander politicians of the KMT. Wang also did not challenge Lee over his localization position. Lee, who has moved to the far left by allowing himself to lead Taiwan’s fundamentalist groups since he disassociated himself from the KMT after handing the presidency to Chen in 2000, has been spreading the idea of localization. In Lee’s view, localization means that one must identify with Taiwan, breed Taiwan consciousness and support independence for Taiwan. He insists that Taiwanese parties must hold more than half of legislative seats and the number of voters favoring the idea of localization must reach more than 75 percent of the population, if Taiwan wants to write a new constitution and become a “normal” country.

It is disappointing that Speaker Wang, such an important KMT figure, has been unable to come up with a clear and convincing political discourse to counter the localization and other ideologies advancing independence.

Yet Wang should not singly be responsible for this damaging failure. The KMT as a whole has failed to offer a clear vision of Taiwan’s future and its relations with the Chinese mainland as an alternative policy to the independence course of the DPP and its allies. The KMT opposes independence, but it is unable to chart a more desirable political course for Taiwan. The party has kept saying it supports the ROC, but it dares not address Taiwan and the PRC as two separate countries. The KMT objects to unifying with the mainland under the Beijing-set formula of “one country, two systems.” But it has been unable to convince the voters of being better able to resolve the “one China” dispute with Beijing.