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KMT not good at being in opposition, still finding its way: chairman

ROC Central News Agency

05/20/2020 05:20 PM

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) The newly elected chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) said the party is still learning how to be an opposition party, "an unfamiliar role" for an organization that has spent most of the past 70 years in a position of power in Taiwan.

In an interview with CNA, Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣), who is also a legislator, said the 126-year-old party was once Taiwan's only party and has governed the country for a long period of time.

It was not until 2016 that the party found itself completely in opposition, having lost the presidential election and not being in the majority in the Legislature, Chiang said.

What the KMT quickly learned is that "we are definitely not good at being an opposition party," Chiang admitted.

In fact, the first two years after its 2016 defeat were the most difficult for the KMT in adjusting to its new role, Chiang said, describing the process as "learning (to be an opposition) by doing it."

Asked how he envisions the KMT's role as an opposition party, Chiang told CNA it needs to learn to take the initiative in following issues that are of greatest concern to Taiwan's people.

The KMT has in the past focused only on the bigger picture and paid little attention to social issues that are of concern to specific groups of people in Taiwan, he noted.

"Being an opposition party means we are in the minority, so issues that are important to groups in the minority should be among our top priorities," he said.

Chiang said the party should engage in dialogue with more civil groups and be more open to dialogue so that it can have a better grasp of social issues that have long being ignored by the KMT.

The 48-year-old Chiang is the youngest party chairman in KMT history after winning the seat in March's by-election following the resignation of his predecessor Wu Den-yih (吳敦義).

Wu stepped down four days after the party suffered sizable defeats in Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, having squandered a big victory in November 2018 elections for local offices.

As a younger generation KMT member, the Taichung native admitted that the party was carrying "too much of a burden" because of its culture, compared with younger political parties, making it challenging for the KMT to launch comprehensive reforms.

"But this does not mean we are not capable of reforms," he said, adding that pushing through reforms will be his main focus during the remainder of his time on the job as he finishes out what would have been the last year of Wu's term before new chairman elections are held.

Most urgent is changing the KMT's image as being out of touch with younger voters, one of the main reasons it was soundly defeated in the January polls.

Chiang recently hired a number of younger people to work in the party system to improve its ability to speak the language of the younger generation.

It recently recruited Chien Ching-yu (簡勤佑) as the KMT's new internet strategist. Chien is the founder of DCard, a major online forum for younger Taiwanese internet users.

"I don't think younger people choose to vote for a certain party solely based on their deep-rooted ideology. I believe they vote for a party because they believe a certain argument that a party proposes on a certain issue," Chiang said.

He also said the party should visit campuses more to interact with the younger generation.

"It may take time but more frequent exchanges with younger people may help them change some of the biases and stereotypes targeting the KMT," he said.

(By Liu Kuang-ting, Yu Hsiang and Joseph Yeh)

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