Mon, Jul 14, 2003 - Page 1 News List

KMT mulls expulsion of renegade Hualien candidate

STAFF WRITER

The KMT is considering expelling Wu Kuo-tung (吳國棟), a party renegade running as an independent candidate in the Hualien County commissioner by-election, according to a Chinese-language media report.

The party is expected to revoke the membership of Wu, a former county commissioner, at its Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, the report said.

Wu is running against Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山), who is jointly endorsed by the KMT and the PFP, despite repeated requests by the blue camp that Wu back out.

The election is a three-way race between Wu, Hsieh and DPP candidate You Ying-lung (游盈隆).

By taking decisive action against Wu, the KMT hopes to bring his supporters back into the party fold, the report said.

A number of pan-blue local leaders, including the PFP's Wu Shui-yun (吳水雲), who is a former county commissioner, have openly thrown their support behind Wu Kuo-tung in defiance of orders from their respective parties.

Hualien is a KMT stronghold and the party has controlled the commissioner post there for the past five decades. You has run and lost in two previous commissioner elections in Hualien. A divided blue camp would aid You's campaign.

The by-election is widely viewed as a prelude to next year's presidential race and a litmus test on the solidarity of the pan-blue camp.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) showed their support for Hsieh yesterday at the opening ceremony for the candidate's campaign headquarters in Hualien.

Meanwhile, media reports said Chiang-Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡) -- the wife of late president Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國) third son, Chiang Hsiao-yung (蔣孝勇) -- will stump for Hsieh.

Chiang-Fang has served as the Chiang family's spokesperson since Chiang Ching-kuo's three legal sons died.

In a bid to persuade Wu Shui-yun from supporting Wu Kuo-tung, Lien met Wu Shui-yun in Hualien yesterday morning, media reports said. But no agreement was reached, as Wu Shui-yun insisted on supporting Wu Kuo-tung's campaign.

Reports said Lien planned to meet Wu Kuo-tung to try to persuade him to drop out of the race, but Wu said he had no intention of discussing the matter with the KMT chairman.

"Though You is backed by the premier, and the chairmen of both the KMT and PFP are campaigning for Hsieh at this moment, the effectiveness of such tactics have yet to be examined," Wu Kuo-tung said.

"What is clear is that our townspeople's support [for me] is firm. They told me that since it is a local election rather than a presidential bid, they don't see the point of the involvement of Taipei politicians," he said.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun was also in Hualien yesterday, campaigning for You.

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