Sat, Mar 15, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Alex Fai apologizes for campaign mess, quits KMT

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

Democratic Progressive Party legislators hold a silent protest against the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) domination of the legislature during a session in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) yesterday announced he would leave the party after his impromptu inspection of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) campaign office on Wednesday sparked harsh criticism from across the political spectrum.

"I feel terribly sorry that a simple on-site inspection turned into such a mess and damaged the KMT's reputation. I announce that I will hereby leave the party and take full responsibility," Fai told a press conference yesterday at the legislature.

Fai blamed himself for the negative impact on KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) election bid and said he would "consider ending his life" if Ma lost the election because of the incident.

Fai had offered his resignation as party caucus whip late on Wednesday night after he and three other KMT legislators -- Lo Ming-tsai (羅明才), Chen Chieh (陳杰) and Luo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) -- barged into Hsieh's Taipei campaign office following allegations that First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) had waived the rental fees for the office.

The legislators, who demanded Minister of Finance Ho Chih-chin (何志欽) accompany them, soon became involved in verbal and physical clashes with Hsieh supporters, who accused the legislators of trespassing.

Fai said he and his fellow legislators went to investigate a claim by a First Commercial Bank employee that Hsieh's camp had occupied the bank's property for free, but the inappropriate timing of the inspection had given the Hsieh camp an opportunity to attack the KMT over the incident.

Ma and KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) yesterday said they respected Fai's decision to leave the party. In response to Fai's suicide threat, Ma said he would spare no effort to win the election.

In an attempt to prevent the incident from affecting his election bid, Ma, who had spent most of the week campaigning in the south, called a press conference yesterday morning after returning to Taipei, at which he bowed and apologized for the incident.

"I offer my apology to Mr. Hsieh, his campaign staff and his supporters once again. I also want to apologize to the public for the disturbance that was caused," Ma told the press conference.

Ma said that the four had exercised their rights at an inappropriate time using inappropriate methods and promised to restrain party legislators from abusing their power if elected next Saturday.

"The KMT is the majority party in the legislature and our legislators should be more cautious when exercising their rights," Ma said. "If elected, I will make sure that the legislature functions well and party reform will also continue. Any members who oppose or refuse to cooperate with the reform will be eliminated during the reform process."

The KMT's Evaluation and Discipline Committee yesterday announced it would suspend the party memberships of the four legislators for a year.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said yesterday the incident should be put to rest following Fai's resignation, while urging the Executive Yuan to investigate whether or not Hsieh's camp had occupied the bank's property for free.

In response, Hsieh said he doubted whether the KMT could keep Ma's promise and refrain from abusing its legislative majority.

Only "two-party rule" and "a checks and balances system" could prevent such abuses, Hsieh said.

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