Taiwan Quick Take: Wu’s woes: Han promises to reform “out of touch” KMT, candidates dodge party list

KMT Chair Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) woes are compounding, and even the man he bent over backwards to put forward as the party’s presidential nominee (over his own ambitions) has knives out gunning for his job.  In theory, Wu has until (if I recall correctly off the top of my head) May 2021 left on his term.  However, it is common practice to step down after a disastrous defeat, which is why many bigwigs in the party are rumoured to be already jockeying for his post.  One would think, however, that his position might be more secure if KMT candidate and Kaohsiung Mayor Daniel Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) were to win the presidential election.  Not if Han has his way.  This from the Taipei Times:

“If elected president, I promise that I will work hard, that the KMT will undergo reforms and that we will cultivate younger generations,” he said, urging supporters to give the KMT another chance.

In other words, he expects to become party chair if he wins.  He also worked a key audience that can both boost the vote in the coming election, and in any KMT party chair race, by offering them a pay raise:

Han also promised to offer township mayors a fixed salary or a raise in their monthly allowance.

The current policy of paying each township mayor a monthly allowance of NT$45,000 is unreasonable, considering that the population of each township varies greatly, he said.

If elected president, he would conduct a nationwide survey among township mayors to determine how to adjust their pay, he said.

With the dueling marches of his supporters and the campaign to recall him from office as Kaohsiung mayor coming up on December 21, the DPP poured on the scorn:

In a video the DPP released on Thursday, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) even said that many Kaohsiung residents feel bad about what they did to Taiwan, Han said.

“In a democracy, people vote to choose their president, legislators and government heads. What wrong could Kaohsiung residents have done to the nation by electing a mayor?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Wu Den-yih’s widely hated party list of legislative candidates is causing considerable problems, as is his choice for the fourth position on the list.  The Taipei Times reported:

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) plans to focus the last month of its campaign on distracting from controversies surrounding its legislator-at-large candidates, a source said yesterday.

Instead, the campaign would continue to zero in on allegations against Yang Hui-ju (楊蕙如) over a post online that has been implicated in the suicide of a diplomat, and would attempt to strengthen reactionary sentiment directed at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, the source added

The party list is shockingly hated, this from another Taipei Times article:

“One poll shows that people across age groups, party affiliation, education level and location have concerns about the KMT’s legislators-at-large list. A total of 62.3 percent of voters said they are not happy about KMT’s list, and within KMT supporters, about 50 percent also expressed dissatisfaction for it,” Enoch Wu said.

That’s phenomenal if those numbers are even remotely close to reality.  Usually the party list gets little attention, much less any reaction from the public at large–for Wu to have compiled a so widely hated list is almost impressive.  By far his worst pick for the final list (the KMT was fortunate Chiu Yi voluntarily backed off) was Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷):

The KMT hopes to draw attention away from criticism of legislator-at-large candidate Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), whom the DPP have pushed to remove from the list, sending the KMT scrambling, the source said.

Wu’s addition to the list has been scrutinized after it was revealed that he had attended a Chinese government event in Beijing where he stood for the Chinese national anthem.

“Although Wu is only a legislator-at-large nominee, the controversy surrounding him has affected the campaigns of other nominees,” the source said. “It’s been like a game of hot potato where legislators are being asked about Wu and don’t know how to answer.”

A smart party chair would do everything possible to get this situation under control, and control his troops.  Not Wu Den-yih!

Wu, believing that he would not be harmful to the KMT, has turned up uninvited at other legislators’ campaign events, the source said.

“He and former army commander-in-chief General Chen Chen-hsiang (陳鎮湘) have appeared at campaign events causing a headache for other nominees. All they can do is try their best to prevent him from taking the stage,” the source said.

In the absence of leadership from party central, will Eric Chu be able to bring things under control?  So far no:

Former New Taipei City mayor and KMT central campaign office head Eric Chu (朱立倫) has not yet started online campaign efforts, the source said, adding that the focus of the KMT’s overall online campaign was expected to follow that of its presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) campaign, which was chosen by Han’s campaign office spokeswoman Anne Wang (王淺秋).

The KMT theme in this election cycle has been “taking down President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and replacing her with the ‘Republic of China clique,’” the source said.

On the online marketing, that speaks to how poorly organized the Han campaign has been–Chu has only had the campaign head position for a couple of weeks, barely time to come up with a well planned online campaign.  However, that theme is very poorly chosen.  Usually winning KMT candidates play up their “Taiwanese-ness” during the campaign to downplay their coming from “mainland” families that came over in 1949 and the KMT’s unpopular pro-unification ideology.  Playing up the ROC to go head-to-head with the DPP’s “defend Taiwan” theme is a sure loser.  Almost everyone agrees they want to defend Taiwan, it’s everyone’s home.  Not everyone feels the same about the ROC.  And unlike professional and winning candidates like former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), he hasn’t–as my Current Affairs Taiwan co-host Michael Turton pointed out–once come out and referred to himself as Taiwanese.  Not even both Taiwanese and Chinese.  He’s got less than four weeks left.

Image from Wu Den-yih’s Facebook

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