The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) party congress yesterday unanimously passed an amendment to the party's "black-gold exclusion clause" that will allow presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to run in next year's election even if he is found guilty on corruption charges in a first trial.
Article 43 of the KMT's regulations had stated that membership would be suspended if a member was indicted for a crime. The amendment changes the articles so that only members who have lost their final appeal will be suspended.
The amendment was proposed by more than 1,300 delegates yesterday morning, and was passed without objection in five minutes.
"Do the congress delegates agree to pass the amendment by clapping your hands? Thank you," KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Ping-kun (
KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) denied the amendment was aimed at helping Ma, who was indicted in February on corruption charges for the alleged misuse of his special mayoral allowance fund. Wu said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had similar regulations.
"The amendment was passed in response to the government's suppression and manipulation of justice and the independence of the judicial system," Wu said.
Wu said the Evaluation and Discipline Committee still had the authority to suspend members whose actions damaged the party's reputation.
The KMT added the black-gold exclusion clause to its regulations in 2000 to improve its image after former chairman Lien Chan (
Ma revised the measure for the elections of public officials after he was elected KMT chairman in 2005 so that members were required to be suspended if they were indicted.
The KMT eliminated that measure after Ma was indicted in February, and the passage of yesterday's amendment further ensures Ma's candidacy even if he is convicted.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who had challenged the move to change the regulations, left the congress before the amendment was discussed. However, he was not the only one to raise doubts about the proposal.
KMT legislators Hung Hsiu-chu (
"We should clarify the public's doubts about the party's decision, and explain more clearly what kind of `black gold' we are excluding," Hung said.
In other developments, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (
The party also added the phrase "adhere to a belief that will prioritize Taiwan and benefit the people" to its revised regulations. It's the first time the KMT has included a term about "Taiwan-centered values" in its regulations.
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