The controversy surrounding the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee (CSC) election escalated yesterday after 22 elected committee members said they would resign.
The CSC members, who were elected on Oct. 11, offered their resignations after elected committee members Yang Chi-hsiung (楊吉雄) and Chiang Da-lung (江達隆) were found to have given gifts to party delegates.
KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) was the first of the members to announce his resignation during a political talk show late on Thursday night.
He told the press yesterday that he was aware of the problems with the committee election.
“However, I do not enjoy the authority to lead reform [within the party] despite a thirst for reform deep in my heart,” Chiu said, adding that he had no alternative but to offer to quit his position.
Chiu urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not to compromise in pushing for party reform.
Among the other 21 who offered to resign were KMT legislators Chang Hsian-yao (張顯燿), Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田), Chen Chieh (陳杰), KMT Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ru (賴素如) and chairman of the Core Pacific Group (威京集團) Shen Ching-ching (沈慶京).
The KMT’s Evaluation and Disciplinary Committee on Tuesday revoked Yang’s elected status, because he was found to have sent fish to delegates via a home delivery service, and Chiang, who sent them red wine. The committee said it was still investigating if more Central Standing Committee members were involved in bribery.
Meanwhile, KMT Taipei City Councilor Lin Yi-hua (林奕華), EasyCard Corporation chairman Sean Lien (連勝文), Tainan City Councilor Hsieh Lung-chie (謝龍介) and KMT youth corps member Lee De-wei (李德維) issued a joint statement saying they had proposed holding a re-election.
“If the proposal fails to pass the CSC next week, we will offer our resignations,” Lin said yesterday at the Taipei City Council.
Lin said they had considered offering their resignations yesterday, but later decided that following party procedures and seeking a consensus at the CSC on a re-election would be a better way to demonstrate the KMT’s determination to reform.
In addition to holding a re-election, Lien said the party should also scrap the current CSC election system if it wanted to root out bribery.
“The district-voting system makes it easy for local branches to carry out vote equalization, while bribery was common among candidates,” he said. “We should take advantage of the situation right now and change the voting system.”
On Thursday, five KMT legislators, including Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), Lin Te-fu (林德福), Sun Ta-chien (孫大千), Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) and Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) also made a similar call, urging a re-election to show the party’s determination to reform.
Two other KMT legislators, however, disagreed with holding another election.
KMT Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳), who is also a member of the standing committee, called for party unity, while Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔), another member of the committee, said she would not support a re-election unless the original election was found to be flawed.
At a separate setting yesterday, Ma insisted on the legitimacy of the CSC election and said he would not initiate a committee re-election.
The CSC election was held in a fair and legitimate manner but recent speculation about bribery had caused a negative public perception, KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said at party headquarters yesterday, relaying Ma’s remarks.
“Chairman Ma supported and encouraged members who resigned to state their innocence and rebuild the credibility of the CSC,” he said.
Lee Chien-jung dismissed concerns that Ma was behind several members’ decision to quit, but added that the KMT would have to hold a large-scale by-election if enough CSC members resign and the weekly meeting did not have enough people attending.
He said “the chairman has no right to initiate a re-election or by-election, and cannot force any members to quit their seats.”
According to KMT regulations, the CSC should meet with the presence of at least half its members, including the chairman, six vice chairmen, five designated members and 32 elected members. The party can hold a re-election if 23 CSC members resign.
Ma gathered party officials later on Thursday night to discuss the matter, but decided not to initiate a re-election as party regulations did not give the chairman the authority to do so.
Were a re-election to be held, it would be the first in KMT history.
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