Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday hinted that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) might have a new chairman after it merges with the People First Party (PFP) .
Wang said that he and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had both agreed that the party might need to elect a new chairman after the merger is completed.
"I reminded [Ma] of this during our conversation and he seemed to agree with me," he told reporters.
Wang said Ma had arrived at his home at 7:35am yesterday.
Asked whether he would make another bid for the chairmanship if such an election were held, Wang said, "I did not say the re-election will definitely be held. How can you ask me such a question at this moment?"
When Ma was approached by reporters later in the day for a response to Wang's remarks, the Taipei mayor said Wang had not raised the issue of a new election during their meeting, although he might have mentioned it on another occasion.
"It is too early to discuss this issue now. We just had a meeting yesterday on merger procedures, and there are many more problems for us to negotiate ... This is not the time to talk about the issue yet," Ma said.
When asked whether he agreed that the merger should be completed before the Lunar New Year holidays, Wang said many things must be considered for such a merger, including personnel and establishing new mechanisms for nomination for elections, and that it took time to resolve these issues.
"I do not hold any KMT position now so I would not comment on this. I would not tell you what the chairman said, either," Wang said.
He said he had once again turned down Ma's request that he become deputy party chairman.
"I told him not to give me a hard time on this issue," Wang said. "[Ma] told me that he understood but also asked me to hold the thought and re-consider it."
Ma denied that their meeting was about Wang's willingness to be the premier. He said Wang agreed that a new Cabinet should be formed on a party-to-party basis.
"I went to thank Speaker Wang for his efforts in campaigning for the local government elections," Ma said. "I already knew his attitude toward the issue before the elections, and I did not go to see him to confirm the matter with him," he added.
He said they had reached a consensus that the DPP should discuss the Cabinet issue with the KMT based on a party-to-party negotiation mechanism, and that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)should give up the rights of forming a Cabinet to the pan-blue camp, since it holds a legislative majority.
Ma's term as KMT chairman will last until 2009, KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) said yesterday, and so it would be premature to discuss whether there should be a new chairman election after the KMT-PFP merger, which will not be completed until 2007.
Meanwhile, the rumors about the possibility of PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) making a run for Taipei mayor next year continued to swirl yesterday.
Ma told reporters that he had proposed a "Ma Ying-jeou model" for Soong if the PFP leader wanted to run.
That means through negotiation with the party members first, Ma said.
If the negotiations fails and other potential candidates still insisted on running, the final candidate will be decided through party primaries, he said.
"My model is simple -- follow the party's rules and go through the primaries if necessary," he said.