The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday attempted to bury its internal dispute over Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) party membership at its 19th national congress, downplaying a proposal tabled at the event to reinstate him.
The speaker’s membership was revoked by the KMT Central Evaluation and Discipline Committee on Sept. 11 over allegations that he engaged in improper lobbying and amid his political wrangling with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman.
Wang’s supporters within the party signed a petition they presented at the congress demanding he be allowed to rejoin the party.
Citing it as a key to reconciling and reuniting the party, KMT Central Standing Committee member Lin Rong-te (林榮德) raised the proposal during the congress’ discussion session, but toned down criticism of the leadership’s handling of the issue.
“We [Wang’s supporters] hope that the party will reinstate speaker Wang’s membership in a dignified, harmonious manner. This is the consensus of most party members,” he said.
KMT Vice Chairman Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said the party would address the proposal later, but did not give a timetable.
The proposal was drawn up after Wang indicated earlier this month that he expects to return to the KMT at the request of party delegates.
However, the party leadership subsequently made clear it has no plans to reinstate the speaker.
Major KMT politicians have continued to voice their support for Wang, as the party leadership has sought to play down the importance of the issue.
Both Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said the party should value Wang’s contributions and continue to communicate with him to resolve the matter.
However, former Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien (連勝文) said the dispute over Wang’s membership is complicated and should be handled carefully.
“I don’t think [reinstating Wang’s party membership alone] would resolve political rift. It’s not that simple,” he said.
Meanwhile, divisions over a proposal seeking to extend the term of Central Standing Committee members from one year to two forced the issue to be put to a vote at the congress, with 583 of 861 party delegates voting in favor of the move.
The party leadership had originally intended to pass the proposal without a vote, but delegate Lee Po-rong (李柏融) protested against the measure, shouting at Ma and other party officials: “Put the issue to vote.”
After Lee was escorted out of the congress by security, the KMT leadership agreed to hold a vote and the proposal was passed.
As he concluded the congress, Ma said the party welcomed the expression of varying opinions at the event and put disputed issues to a vote when a consensus could not be reached otherwise.
“We are a democratic party and members do not necessarily agree on everything. When there are different opinions, we seek consensus via votes,” he said.