TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Kuomintang has ceased to function as a viable political party. Again.
As anti-Hung Hsiu-chu forces within the party spin the rumour mill at full speed with the help of a willing media, nothing in the party seems safe from the auctioning block, be it party regulations, procedures or values. Adding insult to injury, no one within seems to know what or to whom the party is being sold to beyond the privilege of driving the party further into its watery grave.
The KMT has cobbled itself together in face of past crises. It faced challenges after it was forced out of mainland China after 1949, and after years of uninterrupted domination, Lee Teng-hui and democracy dealt it another blow in 2000. In both these examples, the party survived because painful reforms were enacted, reforms that were necessary to preserve the core principles that somehow went beyond individual gain.
With reports that Hung's bid for the presidency may be waning as pressure mounts on her from the party elite, the KMT has shown the Taiwanese public that it is indecisive, prone to throwing out the baby with the bath water, while showing no reservation to subsequently pound that tub holding the water into smithereens.
While the operation of a massive party like the KMT cannot be achieved by a few good men (or women), anyone looking to chairman Eric Chu as the saviour who could steer the party from chaos to order, should remember that the party's predicament today has three major components.
First and foremost, the party has not genuinely addressed the failures that led to its collapse from 2012 to 2014. While Hung's campaign had its fits and starts, it resonated brightly amongst the greater public (initially) when she vowed to transform the party and reform it from within. Instead of jumping to the task of helping the party repair the KMT's storm-battered hull however, anti-Hung forces have tried to undermine her from the start by trumpeting her missteps and disavowing their connection to the party's decline.
Secondly, the leadership while speaking of unity within the party has done nothing to shore up their candidate aside from the occasional photo op. Like rats scurrying from a sinking ship, they have put individual survival above all else, forgetting the essential strength of a party lies in consensus building, responsible governance and the defending of core values. Even if the ultimate aims to bring forth a more "viable" candidate to replace Hung is achieved, the costs ensure that victory is a pyrrhic one at best. By showing the public its disregard to its own comrades, the KMT reflects that it is willing to trade anything necessary for leverage against its rivals. This speaks volumes on how such a party may govern an entire nation.
Finally, the forces of hubris within the party have outmaneuvered the forces of reflection. The ruling party may be dogged by slumping polling numbers, but it is either too proud or too cowardly to reason why the people are almost ready to forsake its leadership for another alternative. Trust seems to be the missing ingredient here, and if anything, this plot to remove Hung emblazons "untrustworthiness" on the party name in ways potentially more far reaching than the past eight years under the Ma administration.