Forcing Taiwan's KMT to Face the Reality of Loss

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Saturday January 30, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

The death of a dream and the loss of a country are terrible things to face and admit. It has been sixty years since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost its civil war in China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) drove them into exile. Sixty years! But even though sixty years have passed, many KMT members have still not gone through the five stages of the grieving process and come to accept that loss. Instead, they remain locked in one or other of the earlier stages of grief (denial, anger, and bargaining). Acceptance is too hard a pill to swallow, but as the KMT wallows in its grief, denial and pity, Taiwan suffers.

There is no doubt that in the immediate years after 1949, almost all the fleeing KMT members (waishengren) were in a stage of denial. Defeat was only temporary, they said. The Chinese people were mistaken about the KMT's corruption. KMT leadership constantly talked of regrouping, preparing and retaking China. Slogans were memorized and mouthed in Taiwan and abroad. All who disagreed were traitors and those in Taiwan were imprisoned and beaten until they reformed. Denial was the mode of the day.

As the years of denial extended, anger sprang up along side of it. How dare the Communists take the homeland from them? It was the KMT's privilege to rule; it was their entitlement. They had an honorable cause. This anger was projected not only on the CCP but also on the Taiwanese. With the communists there was to be no communication, no compromise, and no contact. For Taiwanese, 2-28, martial law, and the White Terror became expressions of anger and frustration, and Taiwan suffered.

The harder one denies and fights loss, the longer one remains in a given stage of denial or anger, and so many KMT remain locked in this past even today. The nation's out-dated Constitution of 1947 is one example; it still speaks of the "free area" of the Republic of China and the not free. It talks as if Mongolia and Tibet still belong under its rule. A different example was the fantasy that only the KMT could handle the economy of the nation, but that fantasy met its demise in the last two years.

Others in the KMT have moved on to the bargaining stage. Rather than accept democracy in Taiwan where Taiwanese can be elected leaders, they have now gone back to China to bargain for a sharing of power with the Communists. They will give them Taiwan on a platter if they can be allowed to share the profits and rule Taiwan perhaps as a province. Some try to maintain the dream by creating the 1992 fantasy consensus of "one China" with two different interpretations. They strive to preserve a semblance of the old days where the KMT and the CCP remain in a stand-off, a pause in their civil war. And the Taiwanese still suffer.

There is some hope. Some KMT have gone through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression and have reached a stage where they can accept and see Taiwan as their homeland. But those are few in number; the majority of the KMT remain in stages of the past; they can only try to preserve some semblance of the dream if even for their own sense of sanity and self-worth.

For Taiwanese the choices are simple and clear. Sixty years of allowing the KMT to grieve are too long. The process has been turned into a twisted justification of the rebirth of KMT entitlement. For the nation's own survival Taiwanese must exercise a form of tough love. It is time to push the resisting KMT through the final stages of grief. It is time to end the charade and vote such sluggards out of office. It is time to rid the country of its leeches. Let the elections at the end of February be the first start. Only then can the nation progress and its true Taiwanese identity be formed.