Wed, May 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

KMT hopeful drops out of party's primary for Taipei

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral hopeful Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) withdrew from the KMT's primary yesterday after a campaign ad targeting one of his rivals sparked both criticism and a written reprimand from the party.

"The reaction generated by the ad was contrary to my intention. I joined the race hoping to make the KMT primary more democratic, but instead attracted unnecessary suspicion. To maintain harmony in the party, I have decided to withdraw from the race," Yeh said yesterday at a press conference at his campaign headquarters.

Earlier this week Yeh's campaign team published an ad in major Chinese-language dailies questioning whether former Environmental Protection Administration chief Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) was taking advantage of the fame of his father, former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村). It also called the younger Hau a "political chameleon" because he had worked for the Democratic Progressive Party government.

The ad sparked criticism from several party members, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and prompted the KMT to issue Yeh a written reprimand yesterday.

"[The ad] goes against the spirit of the primary. We demand all primary candidates follow the rules and refrain from attacking party members or damaging the party's image with a negative campaign," KMT Secretary-General Chan Chuan-bo (詹春柏) said yesterday in a statement.

Yeh denied adopting a negative campaign tactic with the ad, saying that it targeted Hau's problems in the public domain.

He added that a recent series of negative events, rather than the party's reprimand, had prompted him to withdraw.

"Especially Ms. Ma Yi-nan [馬以南], who has been misunderstood by many for supporting me because of my relationship with Mayor Ma. I feel very sorry," Yeh said, sobbing.

Ma Yi-nan, KMT Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) sister, has been under fire for campaigning for Yeh.

Ma Yi-nan reportedly asked party members to support Yeh because his native Taiwanese ethnicity would attract more votes for Ma Ying-jeou in the 2008 presidential election.

Sitting next to Yeh during the press conference, Ma Yi-nan yesterday denied campaigning for Yeh in the name of her brother and blamed herself for "causing Yeh to withdraw from the race."

"I represent myself, and I support Yeh as an individual, not as Mayor Ma's family member ... people who accuse me of taking advantage of being Ma Ying-jeou's sister are very mean," she said.

Yeh, a former Taipei deputy mayor who was perceived as Ma Ying-jeou's "chosen" successor, has been accused of taking advantage of the city government's resources in seeking the mayor's post.

KMT legislators Alex Tsai (蔡正元) and John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) both withdrew from the primary accusing the city government of "taking sides."

In response to Yeh's sudden withdrawal, rivals Hau Lung-bin and KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chong (丁守中) expressed regret.

"Elections are momentary, but friendships last forever," Hau said yesterday.

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