Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Wu hedges on KMT chairmanship

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) was noncommittal yesterday on whether he would seek re-relection, but asked the public not to think he has been pushed aside if he chooses not to run.

He did say, however, that it was unlikely that both he and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would pick up a registration form for the election next Monday.

There has been widespread media speculation that Ma is keen to take over the helm of the party, though he has been equally tight-lipped about his intentions.

Registration for the election opens next Monday and the vote is scheduled for July 26.

Ma paid an impromptu visit to Wu in mid-April, triggering speculation that the president wanted the party leadership to tighten his control over KMT legislators and party affairs.

Ma told reporters after the meeting that he and Wu had agreed last September not to discuss the KMT chairmanship until this month. He asked the public not to dwell on the issue so everyone could focus their efforts on improving the economy.

The remarks were his first public comments on the speculation that he was interested in the party chairmanship.

Wu said yesterday he was more interested in how to be helpful to Ma as well as helping him win the presidency again in 2012.

“Please be patient, we will both make our positions known no later than Monday,” he said. “I will fully cooperate as long as it is good for the whole situation, cross-strait relations, party unity and cooperation between the executive and legislative branches.”

Emphasizing that his heart was at peace, Wu said he met Ma on Saturday to discuss cross-strait affairs and brief him on his recent trip to China. Wu visited Zhongshan Ling (中山陵), Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) tomb in Nanjing, making it his third visit to the city and his second as KMT leader. This year is the 80th anniversary of Sun’s burial in Nanjing.

Wu said he and Ma would meet again before Monday to discuss the party election.

There is also growing speculation that the KMT will increase the number of honorary chairman to give Wu a post, but Wu said: “We never talked about it, nor has such an idea ever crossed my mind.”

He also dismissed rumors that he had been offered a paid presidential adviser post. Describing the rumor as “a joke,” Wu said he had offered his services free of charge over the past decades and hasn’t been on the party’s payroll while serving as chairman.

Asked if he would give up his post in exchange for the KMT backing his son’s bid to be Taoyuan commissioner, Wu said the issues were unrelated and that the KMT would support his son if his son is a suitable candidate.

The party has a transparent mechanism for selecting its candidates and he has never used his position to interfere in the selection process, Wu said.

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