Mon, Aug 27, 2007 - Page 1 News List

KMT conflict rumbles amid unity calls

`EXERCISE SOME RESTRAINT' Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng called on his supporters to drop their demands that KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yi be sacked

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday called for party unity amid harsh criticism from supporters of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Deputy Secretary-General Liao Feng-de (廖風德).

In response to a petition signed by several local-level politicians and grassroots groups in the south demanding that the party replace Wu Den-yih, who they said had damaged Wang's reputation, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) yesterday stood by the two top party officials and said the accusations against them were just a "misunderstanding."

"Wu [Den-yih] and Liao are important comrades who I rely on the most in each battle. No one knows better than me that the KMT will have to unite to win the elections," he said yesterday in Taichung City.

The petition, which was signed by Kaohsiung County Council Speaker Hsu Fu-sen (許福森), vice speaker Lu Shu-mei (陸淑美) and a number of councilors in Kaohsiung, Taichung and Hsinchu, accused Wu Den-yih and Liao of spreading rumors to tarnish Wang's name.

They threatened not to campaign for the party's candidates in next year's elections if the party did not fire both of them.

Wu Poh-hsiung said that the party supported Wang and called on the petitioners to end this "misunderstanding" and refrain from making more accusations.

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) echoed the call for party unity.

"We are only five months away from the legislative elections and seven months away from the presidential election. We should be thinking about the overall situation and not get trapped by our opponents," he said in Taipei.

Wu Den-yih, who was also in Taichung, declined to comment.

Reports have circulated that Wu Den-yih and Liao, working closely with Ma, are trying to curb Wang's influence to prevent him from being re-elected as legislative speaker in January.

Meanwhile, Wang urged his supporters to comply with the calls for unity so that the KMT can win next year's elections.

He made the remarks before leaving for the United Arab Emirates for a five-day visit late on Saturday night. Wang did not comment on the petition, which he said he had not read.

"It's true [that the signers of the petition] showed their support [for me], but I think they should exercise some restraint by dropping it," Wang said.

He said he didn't know about the signature drive in advance.

Despite Wang's call for unity, some KMT lawmakers yesterday continued to demand Wu Den-yih resign or be replaced.

"I will quit the party caucus for the next legislative session if the party refuses to replace Wu," KMT Legislator Ko Chun-hsiung (柯俊雄) said.

KMT Legislator Lee Sen-zong (李顯榮) demanded Wu Den-yih rethink his attitude toward Wang or face losing his position.

"If Wu Den-yih refuses to do so, it will cause a division in the party," Lee said.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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