Well he’s tellin’ us this
And he’s tellin’ us that
Changes it ev’ry day
Says it doesn’t matter
Bases are loaded
And Casey’s at bat
Playin’ it play by play
Time to change the batter — Joe Walsh

The Taiwan News put Green schadenfreude to page the other day with a long editorial applauding the stupidity of the KMT and the despair of the pro-Blue papers….

Frankly, it is a rare day on which we find editorials or columns in the rigidly “pro-blue” United Daily News or its affiliated United Evening News to be worthy of recommendation.

However, yesterday’s issue of the latter publication offered two exceptions. In addition to the important front-page report on plans by the opposition Kuomintang to mandate in a hastily convened party congress the virtual elimination of any restrictions in its charter on members indicted, or even convicted, in first or second trials on corruption from running for office, the new rules will mandate that only a conviction on a third trial on corruption will make a KMT member ineligible for nomination, a proposed change which has already sparked clamoring by recently indicted or convicted KMT mayors and lawmakers for the return of their membership rights.

This report follows on the heels of Tuesday’s decision by the KMT Central Standing Committee to cut the heart out of its new “anti-corruption clause” in order to give an after-the-fact whitewashing of the violation of party discipline by former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou, who had earlier declared his candidacy for president just hours after being indicted on corruption charges related to allegations that he had embezzled into his own personnel bank account NT$11.18 million in public “special executive allowances” during his eight years as Taipei City mayor.

Who is the big loser in this affair? Well, the KMT itself. The central contradiction of the KMT’s existence is the contradiction between its role as guardian of the identity of a colonial elite and repository of the Theology of Return (here and here) and its need to be a political party that passes legislation and wins elections. Nowhere has this contradiction been in greater evidence than in the Affaire de Ma. The Taiwan News went on to describe the editorials in the pro-Blue UDN (United Daily News) and UEN (United Evening News):

In relation to this story, the UEN carried a lead editorial entitled “The KMT Has No Other Options” and its “Cold Eye” column on “Reform Fails; The KMT is Just Like That” shed considerable light on Taiwan’s current political situation.

The UEN’s editorial pointed out that “Ma Ying-jeou is bigger than the KMT” and claimed, not necessarily accurately, that what the governing Democratic Progressive Party “fears is not ‘the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou’ but a “KMT with Ma Ying-jeou at its head.”

Clearly reflecting the viewpoint of apologists for the indicted KMT leader, the editorial claimed that the KMT would “have no chance to resist being further swallowed up by the DPP if Ma Ying-jeou leaves the KMT.”

“The KMT has no other options,” concluded the editorial. “If the KMT does not plan to hand Taiwan’s future over to the DPP, the KMT must create conditions that will allow Ma Ying-jeou to remain in the KMT,” namely remove all barriers to his presidential bid.

On the same second page, the UEN’s “Cold Eye” column admitted that the result of the blitzkreig dumping of the party’s anti-corruption clause was tantamount to the failure of Ma’s faltering drive to “whitewash” the KMT and represented the “kidnapping of inner party democracy.”

According to the UEN, the KMT is “returning to its old road and thus “destroying a party and saving a person,” namely Ma Ying-jeou, through the revival of the KMT’s “evil culture,” including the revival of habits such as “stirring up myriads of people to support the emperor” and “guessing the intention of superiors and catering to the rich and powerful.”

The reason only Ma can save the KMT is because he is a mainlander, born in Hong Kong in 1949, and taken into the Chiang’s inner circles when he became the English secretary to the dictator Chiang Ching-kuo in the early 1980s. Thus, in some ethereal way, the Chiang charisma has rubbed off on Ma — one reason the KMT has been squabbling for more than a decade is because the Chiang charisma has not appeared to descend to anyone.

The irony of the KMT’s recent spat of rule revisions is that a probable winner is already at hand…

Based on the UEN’s reports and analysis, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the KMT leadership has resolved to ignore the plea by KMT Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng that the KMT should have confidence to maintain a high moral standard and “not let the people feel that the KMT is a party of degenerate morality.”

Wang Jin-pyng, the popular Taiwanese politician, speaker of the legislature, and KMT insider, would probably have a better chance of winning as KMT candidate than Ma. Not only is he a native Taiwanese, he is also close to PFP Chairman James Soong, the popular former KMT stalwart, who also claims to be the true heir to the Chiang regime (Wang was present to support Soong when he announced his candidacy for Taipei mayor). He is also respected by his opponents in the DPP. But unfortunately Wang is not a mainlander and the Deep Blues, for whom voting KMT is a religious obligation, will never accept him. Hence, the idea that only Ma can save the KMT…….

The recent rule revisions have, as UDN noted, put paid to any attempt to actually clean up the KMT. The revisions, which will probably permit members who had their membership revoked for corruption to return to the Party, giving the DPP much fodder for the upcoming legislative and presidential election. Although the Blues outnumber the Greens in the legislature, until recently, the DPP was the single largest party in the legislature. Look for a return to the campaigns of the late 1990s, when KMT corruption was a major problem for the then-ruling party. Only this time the corruption will seem petty — stealing a few hundred thousand is chump change in a party that is alleged to have shaken down the French government for US$400 million. As Wiki notes of Ma:

In addition to those incidents that give rise to public doubt on his competency, Ma has also been criticized for his involvement in several alleged scandals. His filings for the compulsory financial disclosure shows that his household net worth increased by more than NT$43 million (US$1.3 million)between 1993 and 2004, at a rate irreconcilable with his living standards, his two daughters in Ivy League schools and his identified income sources. Ma dismissed the criticism with a quotable line: “I spend less than US$10 a day and I only have an old patched suit.”

It’s a common claim among KMT supporters in Taipei that the DPP is incompetent because the sums it steals are so tiny. Now the same charge can be levelled at Ma Ying-jeou…

Only Ma can save the KMT? The corollary is that the KMT is thus secondary to the needs of Ma Ying-jeou. The KMT has just sent voters a powerful message. Let’s see how they hear it.