After a year of electoral tragedy, Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang invited Hong Kong comic actor Stanley Fung Shui-fan to speak at the first of a series of forums on Wednesday designed to help revive the party’s fortunes.
Addressing the public at the first of the KMT’s “democracy salons” in Taipei, Fung said he still identified as a supporter of the party despite his great disappointment with it.
“The KMT is a historical and revolutionary party which set up the Republic of China,” Fung said, referring to Taiwan’s official title.
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“It should have been a great party … but today it has become an opposition party with little public support.”
The KMT’s approval rating plunged to 15.8 per cent compared with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s 36.8 per cent, according to a survey in June by the Election Study Centre of National Chengchi University.
The slide in popularity followed an overwhelming electoral defeat in January’s presidential election, prompting soul-searching within the party.
The salons are an attempt to attract public attention, especially from young people who were seen as a key source of support for the DPP in January amid growing anti-China sentiment on the self-ruled island.
Fung said he supported the KMT because he saw himself as a “100 per cent supporter of the Republic of China”, which he said should be the soul of the party.
The 76-year-old who officially relocated in Taiwan in 1989 and acquired citizenship in 1996 also said he supported cross-strait unification, but under democracy rather than the mainland’s communist system.
Fung said that if the KMT could regain power, it could sit down and “talk with the Chinese communists”.
“If the KMT does not get back on its feet, there is no way to save the ROC,” Fung said.
He criticised former president Ma Ying-jeou for failing to reverse the pro-independence efforts of his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP.
“The KMT, under the leadership of Johnny Chiang, must do all it can to find the right track [to regain power], denounce the Chinese communists and Taiwanese independence … and regain its soul through its reforms in order to become a party that can save the country and people,” Fung said.
In response, Chiang, the KMT chairman, said the KMT would continue to support Taiwan’s status as the ROC.
“We are for the ROC, in the past, present and the future,” he said.
Li Da-jung, director of the KMT’s International Affairs Department, said the event was one way for the KMT to engage the public and improve the image of a party that has long been regarded as conservative and lacking fresh ideas.
Li said his department was set up just several months ago to engage international media and public interest.
He also said the party needed to attract younger voters.
More from South China Morning Post:
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This article Taiwan’s KMT turns to comic actor to tackle election tragedy first appeared on South China Morning Post