Sun, Mar 25, 2001 - Page 1 News List

No surprise as Lien wins election

FOREGONE CONCLUSION Lien Chan, the incumbent and also only candidate, was officially voted KMT chairman in a ballot that saw former president and chairman Lee Teng-hui spending the day playing golf

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lee Teng-hui yesterday chose to play golf with friends, including chairman of the Chinatrust Group Jeffery Koo, on the right, rather than go and cast his ballot in the election for KMT chairman.

PHOTO: HSIEH WU-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The 106-year-old KMT yesterday held the first direct election for chairman in its history -- an event marred by the failure to vote of former president and chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Lien Chan (連戰) -- the incumbent chairman and also the only candidate -- was, as expected, elected the party head. Lien said that the KMT had now become a real democratic political party.

"The first direct and open election for chairman is a milestone in [the party's] political modernization, signifying that the KMT has successfully entered a whole new era," Lien said just before casting his vote in the election yesterday morning.

Lien garnered 97.09 percent of the votes cast, winning 521,712 votes in total. The turnout rate for the election was 57.9 percent, with 537,370 out of the total 928,175 eligible party members voting.

During a speech after the party headquarters had announced the result of the election, Lien stressed that he will henceforward be responsible for the completion of the party's reform.

"Now is not the right time to celebrate our new [democratic] achievement, because we still have plenty to do and many reform efforts to make," Lien said.

Direct elections for the party chairman is part of a package of reforms adopted by the KMT following the party's humiliating defeat in last year's presidential election, when Lien -- the KMT candidate -- was forced into third place.

The KMT's next goal is to have all party leaders formally and publicly authorize the placement of party assets into trusts, which is scheduled to happen tomorrow.

The KMT's Organizational Development Committee director-general, Chao Shou-po (趙守博), said he was satisfied with the election's turnout rate, saying it was higher than the party's original expectation.

A sour note was sounded, however, by the failure of former KMT head Lee Teng-hui to show up to cast his vote.

Lee instead spent yesterday afternoon playing golf with business leaders and a group of Japanese friends.

This was much to the consternation of reporters who had camped outside the KMT branch office at his hometown of Tashi in Taoyuan County since the opening of the polls yesterday morning.

But Lee disappointed the journalists, who were still waiting there when the polls closed at 3pm.

Some more enterprising reporters, however, gathering outside the golf club to ask Lee whether he had cast his vote. While sitting on a golf buggy heading toward the next hole, Lee said "I have no time."

In an effort to explain Lee's attitude, Lien told reporters after making his victory speech that Lee had already decided to stay clear of political affairs. Lien simply said: "give him [Lee] a break."

Many of the party's senior leaders and veteran members, including those who once strongly opposed Lee's leadership style -- such as former KMT secretary-general and premier Lee Huan (李煥), former legislative speaker Liang Su-jung (梁肅戎) and former premier Sun Yun-suan (孫運璿) -- all participated in yesterday's election to express their support for Lien.

In yesterday's election party members also elected delegates who will attend the party's 16th National Congress, which is scheduled to be held in August. The congress will be the first party convention held since the KMT lost power last March.

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