Sun, Jul 03, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Ma, Wang offer KMT members choice

FOCUS ON 2008 The two rivals for the party chairmanship presented their alternatives for the future of the former ruling party but both stressed the next presidential election

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, left, and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, embrace each other prior to a televised forum in Taipei yesterday where they presented their cases for being elected chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) supporters across the nation had a chance to hear the party's two rivals for the chairmanship face off yesterday afternoon as Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jing-pyng (王金平) gave the first of two televised one-hour forums.

While Wang used his two 14-minute spots to emphasize his legislative experience and promised pan-blue success in the year-end mayoral and county commissioner elections, Ma told voters to support him if they wished to attract young people to the party and increase the party's grassroots connections.

While both KMT vice chairmen emphasized the failure of the administration to deal with the nation's economic problems and pointed to the cross-strait situation as reasons why the KMT needs strong leadership to win back power in the 2008 presidential election, the pair differed in their visions of the chairmanship.

Wang said he was the candidate best suited to unite the pan-blue camp, and he promised the pan-blues would win over half of the counties and cities in the year-end elections if he was chairman.

Ma said people should back him if they wanted to see more young people join the party, using the slogan "only by choosing the right person, can there be victory."

While Ma's camp had originally wanted a televised debate between the candidates, Wang's camp was unwilling and so they compromised on a two-forum format. The second forum will be held on July 9.

After drawing lots, it was decided that Ma would give the first and last 14-minute presentations yesterday, while Wang gave the second and third. Yesterday's forum was broadcast in its entirety on six TV channels and one radio station.

The interaction between the two men yesterday was cordial, as they shook hands and hugged for the press after their presentations.

Stressing the importance of regional support for a 2008 presidential pan-blue victory, Wang outlined a five-point strategy for the party's success in the year-end elections.

First, he said, as chairman, he would coordinate efforts with the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party, to have the pan-blue camp support a single candidate in each region.

He said he would also form a group of experienced people to campaign for the elections, he would respect voter opinions, he would reorganize the party's regional and factional resources and he would draw up a budget for campaign efforts.

Wang said he was the only candidate capable of uniting the pan-blue camp, pointing to his experience consolidating pan-blue support in the legislature.

For example, he said, it was by coordinating pan-blue unity in the legislature that a provisional law granting welfare subsidies for Aboriginals aged 55 and up was passed, in addition to a law proposed by the pan-blue camp to control the SARS outbreak in 2003.

"Only I have the record and experience to bring about unity for the pan-blue camp and in the legislature. If made chairman, I will be able to handle pan-blue issues," Wang said.

Given the efforts of the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) government to oppress the KMT through proposed laws such as those attempting to investigate the KMT's finances, it is important that the party maintain a close relationship with the legislature, he said.

Meanwhile, Ma said that the pan-blue camp's legislative majority is a resource available to all of the pan-blue camp's supporters.

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