Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Ma may be challenged for 2008 primary, Wang says

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

After hinting that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) might be challenged for his party's presidential nomination in 2008, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday remained tight-lipped.

Speculation was rampant among local media outlets that remarks by Wang on Wednesday night, in an interview with SET-TV, indicated he intended to seek the nomination himself.

During the interview, Wang said that there was no guarantee that Ma would be the only candidate from the KMT seeking the party's nomination. When asked by reporters to elaborate yesterday, Wang said little.

"There is a wealth of talented people," he said. "As far as I know, Ma is not the only one who wishes to take part in the primary. Would it be good that we have only one candidate?"

While Ma has widely been considered his party's most likely 2008 presidential candidate, some view Wang as a potential rival.

Ma and Wang competed for the KMT chairmanship last year. Ma defeated Wang comfortably.

Wang said he would not reveal the names of who told him of their intention to compete with Ma for the nomination, as he had not been authorized by them to do so. Ma has not yet declared whether he intends to seek the nomination.

Responding to a question as to whether former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) was planning to try for the presidency again, Wang said: "He never told me about this."

Lien has run twice and lost.

"Now the most important thing for me is to do my legislative work well. I haven't thought about [the 2008 presidential election] yet," Wang said.

He said that he didn't think of his "personal problems" now, noting that he hoped to first push through a legislative redistricting plan and a government budget request.

Wang has been on good terms with the KMT's pro-localization lawmakers, who have questioned Ma's support in the south.

When asked for comment, Ma said that his party had never been a party with only one dimension, and that all party members were welcome to take part in the primary.

"We have a lot of talented people in the party, and many party members are qualified to be the KMT's presidential candidate," he said.

Ma declined to say how he felt about the possibility of facing Wang in a presidential primary.

The KMT's National Convention -- traditionally held in August -- must approve the presidential candidate. Therefore, Ma said, the primary would be no later than August.

Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳), who suggested that Ma spend some time living in the south after the KMT lost the Kaohsiung mayoral election, said that taking care of southern people's feelings should be a concern. Ho said that Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), Taoyuan County Commissioner Chu Li-lun (朱立倫), and Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) had all performed well in this regard, making them good potential candidates.

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