Week of Nov. 30-Dec. 5

President Ma Ying-jeou was forced to resign as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman following arguably the largest electoral defeat in the party’s history. All eyes are on how the party, which just celebrated its 120th anniversary, will respond to the snowballing crisis that some say could cost it the 2016 presidential election — or more. Welcome to this week’s issue of the Insider.



MA STEPS DOWN AS KMT CHAIRMAN: Lambasted by KMT politicians, supporters and the media for hinting in a speech on Saturday that he would remain chairman, Ma on Tuesday offered his resignation, which was approved the following day, thus launching an internal power struggle with the posts of KMT chairman and secretary-general, as well as premiership, are left vacant. Many KMT members fear the party’s power and future electoral hopes are in jeopardy. (Note: Premier Jiang Yi-huah [江宜樺] and KMT secretary-general Tseng Yung-chuan [曾永權] resigned on Saturday.)

In his speech at the KMT Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, Ma insisted that the “overall direction of the country” and the “direction of liberalization” were correct, despite the humiliating defeat.

WU ACTING KMT CHAIRMAN: Ma dissuaded Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) from resigning as KMT vice chairmen and named Wu as acting chairman. A by-election for chairman is to be held by the end of January next year. Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) was named acting party secretary-general.

Sanlih TV reported that New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) were possible candidates for chairmanship and that the strongest contenders for the KMT’s presidential nomination would be Wu and Chu.

MAO NAMED PREMIER: While the names of several candidates have been floated as possible replacements for Jiang, Ma finally tabbed vice premier Mao Chih-kuo (毛治國) as premier. The decision immediately sparked accusations that Ma and the KMT lack determination to carry out necessary reforms and to answer voters’ discontent, as Mao was said to have been responsible for the failures of the previous Cabinet. A technocrat and bureaucrat, Mao is close to Ma and it is believed that he will maintain most of Ma and Jiang’s policies.

Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) turned down Ma’s offer to assume the premiership.

A survey conducted by Chinese-language China Times found that only 11% of respondents supported the Mao Cabinet.

MINOR CABINET RESHUFFLE: Although Mao has yet to announce his Cabinet members, the Presidential Office said most Cabinet members would be retained. Leaving the Cabinet are Minister of Cultural Affairs Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) and Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍), who will be replaced by Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), a deputy representative to the WTO. Lawmakers across party lines said the decision failed to live up to public expectations and showed Ma’s “unwillingness” to implement reform.

CHINA WATCHING: China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said after Ma’s resignation that Beijing “has taken note of” the election result and insisted that cross-strait relations should be developed peacefully on the basis of the “1992 Consensus.” The office also refuted a report published by the Journalist magazine, which said that upon learning of the KMT defeat in the Nov. 29 elections, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) had ordered a feasibility study for a visit to China by DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). TAO spokesperson Fan Liqing (范麗青) called the report “false” and “groundless.”

CHU OUT OF 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? Most analysts observed that New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu could be the biggest loser in the elections. Re-elected with only 24,000 votes more than his opponent — a much narrower victory than the initial goal of winning by a margin of 350,000 votes — Chu’s presidential hopes may have been dashed, said Xfuture.org, an election forecast website.

However, a public opinion poll conducted by ETtoday, an online news website, found that Chu and DPP Chairperson Tsai were the most likely contenders in 2016. Among the likely KMT presidential candidates, Chu enjoyed 67% support from respondents, followed by Hau Lung-bin with 14%. Tsai leads DPP hopefuls with 48%, followed by Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) with 26%.

LOW SUPPORT FOR MA: A public opinion poll conducted by the pro-independence Taiwan Thinktank showed that Ma Ying-jeou’s support remained stuck at 9.7 percent and that close to 60% of respondents agreed that the 9-in-1 elections were a referendum on the Ma administration. The poll also showed that 52.7% agreed that the results of the elections reflected public opposition to Ma’s “pro-China” policy.

KING PU-TSUNG UNDER FIRE: Politicians across the political spectrum said Ma’s resignation as KMT chairman could not save the party unless National Security Council Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), Ma’s strongest ally and a close confidant of the president, also resigns and stops “manipulating” KMT affairs and national policies behind the scenes. Former Taipei City councilor Yang Shih-chiu (楊實秋), who failed to be re-elected on Saturday, was the first KMT politician to go public with the demand in a press conference on Thursday.

DPP OPTIMISM: Soochow University professor You Ying-lung (游盈隆), a former DPP lawmaker, predicted that the DPP would return to power in 2016 and that the KMT would not be able to stage a comeback in the next 10 years. Former DPP chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) also said the KMT was likely to be in down period for at least eight years.

CHINESE PRESSURE ON DPP: American experts, among them Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Alan Romberg, East Asia program director at the Stimson Center, said China could toughen its stance on the DPP if the party refuses to accept the “one China” framework. Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it was difficult to tell whether China would change its policy toward Taiwan, as this will depend on what steps are taken by the DPP.

POST ELECTION ANALYSIS: Academics said the KMT’s outlook is bleak (here) while the National Interest talked about Taiwan’s political realignment here. Former DPP lawmaker Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) broke down election results, saying the DPP could win both the presidential election and legislative majority in 2016. Foreign Policy discussed how governance dysfunction hurt both political parties. CNN also discussed the election and their possible impact on cross-strait relations.



DPP CAUTIOUS ABOUT HUGE WIN: Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen asked the DPP not to be complacent about the outcome of the 9-in-1 elections as the KMT’s defeat served as a good example of how voters will punish any political party that fails to listen to the people and to perform. Citing the case of Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), Tsai said the DPP would need to ensure close collaboration with civil society. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) will serve as the convener of a panel of 13 DPP mayors and commissioners.

JOSEPH WU IN WASHINGTON: DPP Secretary-General and representative to the U.S. Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said in Washington that the 9-in-1 elections should not be interpreted as a defeat for the KMT’s cross-strait policy because cross-strait relations were not debated as part of the elections. Wu, who is visiting the U.S. to brief officials and academics on the election results, also said Taiwan and China should engage in communications and negotiations without any preconditions, including the so-called 1992 Consensus.

POLITICIANS URGE PAROLE FOR CHEN: DPP Chairperson Tsai, Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), all 13 newly elected or re-elected DPP mayors and commissioners and several pro-independence groups have called for the government to grant medical parole to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), saying that a parole would not only benefit Chen’s health but also facilitate reconciliation between the pan-green and pan-blue camp. Tsai visited Chen at Taichung Prison on Thursday.

KO WEN-JE HITS THE GROUND RUNNING: Ko has not wasted any time since claiming the election for Taipei mayor on Saturday. He has named two of the three deputy mayors as well as heads of the Department of Health and the Department of Sports. The selection of the Director of the Department of Labor will be be conducted through “i-Voting.” This will be the first time a government official is to be chosen via online voting. The mayor-elect has also met New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu, incumbent Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, new Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) and new Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌).

TIME FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM? Politicians and academics argued that the time is ripe for constitutional reform in the new political landscape and changing voter mentality. Among the proposals: switching from the current presidential system to a parliamentary system and changing the current legislative structure format from parallel voting (mixed-member majoritarian system, MMM) to top-up system (mixed-member proportional representation, MMP). In May, DPP Chairperson Tsai said she supported the MMP system, which would benefit smaller parties. DPP spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said on Tuesday the DPP was set to hold a national conference next year to push for constitutional reforms.

TRADE PACTS WITH CHINA: DPP lawmakers called on the KMT to cautiously deal with negotiations of the service trade agreement and trade in goods agreement with China as well as oversight legislation after the KMT’s defeat in Saturday’s elections. Potential clashes in the legislature are looming as the KMT caucus insists the pacts must be passed “as is.”

STUDENT LEADER MULLING BY-ELECTION BID: National Tsing Hua University graduate student Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), one of the student leaders in the Sunflower Movement in March, is mulling throwing his hat in the legislative by-election in Miaoli County after incumbent lawmaker Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) won the commissioner race on Saturday.

CHINESE DISSIDENT ANNOUNCED LEGISLATIVE BID: Wu’er Kaixi (吾爾開希), a former Chinese pro-democracy dissident, announced on Monday that he intends to run in the legislative by-election in Taichung.



BLACK HAWKS ARRIVAL: Four of an order of 60 Sikorsky UH-60M helicopters arrived in Kaohsiung on Wednesday as the first of seven batches of delivery. Forty-five of the 60 choppers, which worth US$3.1 billion, will go to the Army.

MISSILE TEST INFORMATION RELEASED: Taiwan released videos and photos of the trial launch of its Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) supersonic anti-ship missile, touted as an aircraft-carrier killer, and Tien Kung III surface-to-air missiles for the first time on Tuesday. Taiwan’s Chengkung-class frigates and Chinchiang-class corvettes have already been fitted with the HF-3.

China also unveiled its new CX-1 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile at the recent Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Read the comparison of HF-III and CX-1 here.

YUN FENG MISSILES TO BE TESTED: Storm Media reported that the Yun Feng (Cloud Peak) missile is scheduled to undergo a trial launch by the end of this year. The Yun Feng is a long-range surface-to-surface missile with an operational range of 2,000 kilometers, which would put Beijing within range.

KINMEN CANDIDATE DETAINED IN SPY CASE: Retired major-general Hsu Nai-chuan (許乃權), who ran unsuccessfully for Kinmen County commissioner on Saturday, was detained on Monday over alleged links to a Chinese espionage ring operating inside the military. Hsu and at least nine other former military officers are suspected of working for Zhen Xiaojiang (鎮小江), who works for the Chinese intelligence apparatus, after formerly holding a senior military post in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

SECURITY BREACH: A Chinese citizen gained access to an off-limits machine room at Chunghwa Telecom Co, the nation’s largest telecommunications company. The Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that the Chinese posted dozens of photographs of machines and equipment from inside the room on the social media site WeChat.


The Taiwan Insider is a weekly feature prepared by the Thinking Taiwan Foundation’s Chris Wang and staff members. Comments? Leads? You can reach us at editor@thinking-taiwan.com.

One Response to “TAIWAN INSIDER Vol. 1 No. 11”

December 05, 2014 at 2:50 pm, Torch Pratt said:

To learn more about the MMP representational system, here’s a helpful video from New Zealand.


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