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Dejected supporters of Kuomintang presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu follow the online counting of ballots in Kaohsiung on January 11. The party was defeated in the last two presidential elections, before the Kaohsiung mayoral setback in August. Photo: EPA-EFE

LettersTaiwan’s KMT get a wake-up call with Kaohsiung mayoral rout

  • KMT’s multiple electoral failures are just the tip of the iceberg – the problem is incapable leadership. The party must seek reform or risk irrelevance
On August 15, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party regained Kaohsiung in the mayoral by-election, held after failed presidential contender Han Kuo-yu was recalled from the post. The DPP’s Chen Chi-mai, a former vice-premier, pulled just over 70 per cent of votes. The opposition Kuomintang candidate, Li Mei-jhen, who was outed for plagiarising speech notes for her postgraduate thesis, only received 25.9 per cent of the total ballots cast.
When drafting my previous letter, “ KMT must take two steps to win back support”, I thought there was hope for the party to stand up again. After the by-election, I realised that I was totally wrong.
First, the party severely lacks the ability to self-reflect. The presidential election setback and Kaohsiung mayoral recall referendum were warning calls for the KMT. Commentators have told the KMT what it should do to save itself from the dire situation. However, it took no redemptive action and repeated its mistake when picking election candidates.

Academic dishonesty kills politicians’ careers and hurts the party’s reputation; this should at least be common sense for all political figures and parties. However, it seemed that senior members of the KMT lacked the common sense necessary to be qualified politicians. Or why did the KMT leadership not take firm action, such as ordering Li to quit the Kaohsiung race?

The multiple electoral failures of the party are just the tip of the iceberg. Kuomintang’s problem is its incapable leadership, which lacks common sense and struggles to maintain team spirit. Without deep reforms, the KMT will have a bitter time, if not become totally irrelevant, in a Taiwan poised to be dominated by the DPP.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town