I blogged the other day on the MAC appointment of Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), a Taiwan Solidarity Union politician who was also Taiwan’s WHO negotiator and whom, I was told by someone who had worked with her, is an anti-globalization lefty. The incoming premier appointed Lai to head up the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s chief policymaking body on China. This appointment has stirred up strong feelings among KMT members who feel they do not live in a democratic society where representation of all voices must be made — no matter how insignificant:

Concerned about president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan’s (劉兆玄) choice of former Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) as Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) chairwoman, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday urged their leaders to give priority to the party “faithful” when making future Cabinet appointments.

Approached for comment, KMT caucus acting secretary-general Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said the caucus did not oppose the Cabinet lineup Liu had made public so far.

“But we would like to remind them again that the KMT is full of talented people,” he said.

“Over the past eight years, these loyal KMT members worked hard to supervise the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) [government]. They also did their best to campaign for the KMT during legislative and presidential elections,” he said.

Hsieh said the caucus respected Ma’s authority to nominate Cabinet officials, but the reaction to Lai’s nomination was “unavoidable.”

Hsieh urged Lai to endorse Ma’s platform of commencing direct weekend charter flights between Taiwan and China on July 4 before she assumes office.

He also called on Lai to specify what supplementary measures she would propose if the cap on Taiwanese listed firms’ investment in China were to be lifted.

“If the two issues could be resolved, we would feel relieved [about Lai’s nomination],” he said.

Some KMT legislators expressed reservations about Ma’s choice of Lai as MAC head after Liu unveiled a second round of Cabinet appointees on Monday.

Some questioned whether having a pan-green MAC chairwoman would have a negative impact on cross-strait negotiations.

Ma defended his decision on Monday, saying that Lai’s appointment would help the incoming administration find common ground with the more than 5 million people who did not vote for him in last month’s election.

However, KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said that Lai’s nomination had cast a cloud on cross-strait relations, adding that KMT members would have felt more “warmth” if Ma and Liu had had consulted them prior to “such an important appointment.”

Commendably Ma positioned himself in the middle on the appointment, which I personally regard as a signal that MAC will not have much of a voice in policy formulation under the Ma Administration. This “controversy” filled the TV news all day yesterday, overshadowing news that China had blocked another WHO bid under the name “Taiwan.” The DPP also criticized Ma’s take on the appointment, saying that Lai was not from the DPP and thus cannot represent the 5 million who didn’t vote for Ma.

Someone should remind these KMT partisans that the Chen Administration featured a KMT premier, a KMT EPA head, and KMT defense ministers throughout both his terms. Objections to a TSU (note: no DPP) politician for the MAC post are ridiculous.

As if to reassure locals that the MAC will continue to be relevant, Ma also announced yesterday that only the MAC and the SEF will represent the government in talks with China:

The Mainland Affairs Council and the Straits Exchange Foundation under its oversight are the only official agencies in charge of holding cross-Taiwan Strait talks, President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the opposition Kuomintang said on Monday.

Ma made the remarks while answering reporters’ questions at the KMT headquarters after Honorary Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) departed for Beijing on a private visit earlier the same day. Lien is slated to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) during the tour.

Asked whether any agreement reached in talks between Lien and Hu would influence policies of the incoming KMT administration, to be inaugurated on May 20, Ma made it clear that only the MAC and SEF are authorized to represent the government in entering into negotiations with the Chinese side.

Yes, MAC and SEF represent the government, but who speaks for the KMT party? I think we got the answer to that question with KMT Chairman for Life Lien Chan’s visit to China this week, with a bevy of KMT officials in tow. And does Ma control Lien, or Lien control Ma? I think we got the answer to that one too. Sooner or later President Ma will have to visit Beijing and make his kowtow to the Dragon Throne, or risk being marginalized by processes that do not include him….