By Mo Yan-chih
Monday, Jul 27, 2009, Page 3
A series of challenges awaits President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)
as he prepares to take over the party chairmanship, analysts
Ma was elected KMT chairman in yesterday’s party election in
which he was the sole candidate for the top post. He will
take over the job on Sept. 12 during the party congress.
Ma, who had said he would not take over the KMT chairmanship
during last year’s presidential campaign, changed his mind
after assuming office and announced his candidacy last month
in a bid to tighten his control over the legislature, the
party and cross-strait affairs.
Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒),
a political commentator at National Dong Hwa University,
said Ma’s decision to double as party chairman was not
surprising and that the KMT’s functions will be weakened
under Ma’s leadership regardless of his support in
“Ma takes over the chairmanship in order to hold the KMT’s
power in check and centralize his power, Shih said.
While Ma repeatedly he was not seeking the chairmanship to
expand his power but to take more responsibility, Shih said
it was clear that Ma wanted the job to push through his
policies more effectively and to eliminate negative factors
on his way to a second term as president.
As KMT chairman, Ma will have more control on the nomination
of party candidates, especially after the redrawing of
administrative zones following the mergers or upgrade of
counties and cities.
However, challenges and opposition from local factions have
delayed the KMT’s nomination process for local government
head elections and finalizing candidates for the December’s
polls will be Ma’s first task as chairman.
In Hualien, for example, five politicians registered for the
KMT’s primary for the county commissioner election. However,
the party called off the primary last month, reportedly
because Ma wanted Minister of Health Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川)
to run in the election.
The KMT has had a hard time finalizing a candidate for the
Yunlin County legislative by-election because former
legislator Chang Sho-wen’s (張碩文)
father, Chang Hui-yuan (張輝元)
— who was found guilty of vote-buying in his first trial —
insists on running in the election.
Shih said Ma, who has kept his distance from local factions,
would have to deal with the local politics if he plans to
nominate candidates with integrity as he has promised.
Wang Kun-yi (王崑義),
a professor at National Taiwan Ocean University, said Ma’s
doubling as KMT chairman will give him absolute power over
the party, the legislature, the military and cross-strait
He said the Ma administration could become authoritarian if
the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) failed to keep the
KMT’s performance in check.
“Ma could rule the nation in an open yet authoritarian way.
The DPP should prevent that from happening,” he said.
There has been intense speculation that Ma might attend a
KMT-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cross-strait forum in his
role as KMT chairman to meet his Chinese counterpart, Hu
Taking control of the KMT’s communication channel with
Beijing would help Ma eliminate the influence of old KMT
heavyweights such as former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰)
and outgoing KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hisung (吳伯雄),
and claim full authority over cross-strait affairs, Wang
Yang Tai-shun (楊泰順),
a political science professor at Chinese Culture University,
said the main reason Ma wanted the KMT job was to implement
his cross-strait policies and control of cross-strait
Ma could use the KMT’s legislative majority to amend the
Constitution, Shih said. He said Ma should ponder the
three-way relationship between the Presidential Office, the
Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan because taking over
the chairmanship alone would not solve the power struggle
between the three.
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