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Talk of the Day

2014/04/16 18:14:57

After opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang and another DPP heavyweight, Frank Hsieh, announced separately Monday their decisions to drop out of the race for party chief to make way for a younger generation, ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou asked his party staff Tuesday to come up with a plan for KMT reforms.

The KMT chief, whose leadership ability was cast into doubt during the student-led protest against Taiwan's service trade pact with China, intends to prepare his party for year-end local elections, but his determination has been seriously questioned in local newspapers.

The following are excerpts of local papers' Wednesday coverage of the issue:

United Daily News

Ma's views of party reforms are stuck on technical issues and fail to address the core problems of the ruling party -- the succession of new leaders and the broadening of his decision-making circle.

During the anti-service trade pact protest, few KMT lawmakers, party members or public office holders at the national or local levels came out in Ma's defense.

Some observers have questioned whether the KMT apparatus has done anything to help its chief defend his policy. Exchanges with China, which have long been the ruling party's forte, have suddenly turned into a millstone.

One veteran KMT member said Ma has never worked at the party's local chapter level and has little experience in soliciting grassroots voters.

On the other hand, he has tried hard to reduce the party to an electioneering machine by trimming its local chapters of staff and functions.

Now that all the power within the party has been put in the hands of the KMT's upper echelon, the member said, it won't be easy to press for reforms.

China Times:

Ma is a leader interested in reforms -- as long as they are imposed on others.

Ever since he took office as president in 2008, he has tinkered with the state-run CPC, Taipower, the national health insurance program and the national pension program, but all these have involved other people, and many of them have been unpopular.

When it comes to mending the ways of his own party, a move that has been proved by the anti-service trade pact protest to be greatly needed by the party, Ma's record as a reformer of others will hardly lend credit to his ability to carry out successful reforms.

Ma has undermined his own leadership by consulting only with a few close aides when determining policy for the country. As a result, when these policies cause public outcry, none of his party comrades are prepared to back him.

Since the party's root cause of weakness lies in Ma's lack of leadership, any reforms in the party should start with him. (April 16, 2014)

(By Maubo Chang)