Sun, Mar 26, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Bloodletting set to begin, hints Lien

KMT PURGE The party is preparing to clean out the cupboard and rid itself of those members whose support was not absolute for Lien Chan during the election campaign

STAFF WRITER

The KMT's acting chairman, Vice President Lien Chan (連戰), vowed yesterday to undertake sweeping reforms of the party, confirming reports that a purge of members who had supported other candidates during the election campaign would take place.

Speaking to party members in Taoyuan County yesterday, Lien said the KMT would soon start a review of its organization, personnel and operations.

Lien took over as acting chairman after President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) resigned on Friday to take responsibility for the KMT's resounding defeat in the presidential election.

The vice president was upbeat in yesterday's speech, despite having finished a distant third in the election. He extolled the KMT's contributions to Taiwan's development, saying that the party had brought an economic miracle, not to mention democracy, to the country during its 54 years in power.

The party now urgently needs to reform to keep up with the changing times, Lien said, while confirming that a significant number of members would be disciplined in the wake of the election defeat.

The party's provincial office is set to submit to party headquarters tomorrow a list of members islandwide who violated party rules during the election.

The first wave of the planned purge will focus on county and city councilors and more senior party members.

Senior figures on the list reportedly include Taichung County council speaker Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), legislator Lin Chun-te (林春德), former Ilan County Council speaker Lai Han-ting (賴翰霆) and former Ilan mayor Wu Pan-lung (吳攀龍). Their memberships are expected to be revoked.

The second wave of expulsions is expected to seep quickly down to the township and grassroots levels.

According to a statement from the party's provincial office, the purge will be necessary "even if it leaves the party with only 500,000 members in the end."

The turmoil which has engulfed the party since its election defeat continues, meanwhile, to generate intense speculation in the media over who will step up to challenge for top leadership positions in the wake of Lee's departure.

Former Kaohsiung mayor Wu Dun-yi (吳敦義) was a name that cropped up yesterday, after he commented that the party needs to be "democratized to keep up with the times."

He was apparently referring to growing demands for direct election of the party chairman by the membership.

Wu was seen as one of the KMT's brightest young stars until losing the Kaohsiung mayorship to the DPP's Frank Hsieh in December, 1998.

He did not stump for any candidate during the election, despite earlier rumors that he was siding with independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜).

When asked if he would stay in the KMT and participate in party reforms, Wu said, "I won't touch this issue for now."

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