Several recent incidents have once again exposed the state of disunity within the ruling Kuomintang (KMT). They include the reversal of an electricity price hike plan by some members of a nucleus "five-man panel," and the blocking of the capital gains tax bill by KMT legislators.
The causes behind such a chaotic situation can be traced to problems with President Ma Ying-jeou's leadership.
First, in a democratic country, any policies that involve legislative changes must obtain majority approval in the Legislature. But Ma has been too focused on the front-end process in the Cabinet and has neglected communication and coordination with the Legislature.
Second, although Ma is chairman of the ruling party, he has not been able to persuade the party's legislative caucus to support the government's policies. This demonstrates his failure as a party leader.
Third, during the decision-making process, Ma is often seen wasting time on details and giving little consideration to the overall situation, which results in unnecessary flip-flopping on his decisions.
Similar situations have occurred time and again over the past four years and the disagreement and discord within the ruling party seem to have worsened since Ma's re-election.
On the blocking of the capital gains tax bill, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng said the move showed "intra-party democracy" and proved that the legislative caucus is not the Cabinet's rubber stamp.
But in fact, this demonstrates a lack of discipline, rather than democracy. Ruling party legislators should seek to express their differences over the Cabinet's decisions via an intra-party mechanism, and should not embarrass the president and his administration by openly opposing Cabinet proposals in the Legislature.
This incident not only reflects Ma's failed leadership but also exposes the confusion and lack of discipline within the KMT. If Ma does not rebuild his leadership credibility soon, he will have a harder time in his second term than he did in his first. (Editorial abstract -- May 11, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)