Row erupts over KMT nominations

`CLOSED-DOOR POLITICS': The party has abolished a regulation that legislator-at-large nominees must have been KMT members for three years or more

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 1

Several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators yesterday criticized a decision by the party to abolish a requirement that legislator-at-large nominees must have been KMT members for at least three years.

While some said the move was unfair to loyal KMT veterans, others speculated whether there was a hidden agenda behind the decision to make it possible for "specific non-KMT individuals" to be nominated.

KMT Legislator Hou Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) said the move was unfair to members who have been loyal to the party for years.

"The party should still prioritize party loyalty when selecting candidates," said Hou, a legislator-at-large from Kaohsiung City.

Aside from loyalty, Hou said that the party should also take into account people's contribution to the KMT when considering candidates for legislator-at-large nominations.

Being nominated as legislator-at-large guarantees the possibility of a seat in the Legislative Yuan without having to hit the campaign trail, depending on how many seats the party wins in the legislative elections.

Explaining the reasoning behind the change, KMT Spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said the party "wishes to demonstrate its scope in embracing others" and "recruit academics and professionals who possess a good public image" as potential legislators-at-large.

KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖), however, echoed Hou's comments and said the removal of the membership regulation was unfair and would have a negative impact on the morale of party members.

"The abolishment of the three-year membership requirement means that people could be nominated as legislators-at-large even if they have only been a registered member for one day," said Chen, who is seeking re-election in Taipei City's second constituency.

"The change was tailored specifically to suit certain individuals," he said.

He was assumed to be referring to individuals such as former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), former DPP National Assembly representative Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) and independent Legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜), who have all allied themselves with the pan-blue camp and served as advisors to the KMT-People First Party alliance during the presidential election campaign.

Chen also criticized the way in which the party compiles its list of nominees.

"It is like `closed-door politics,' where the decision over who to be named on the list falls in the hands of a handful of high-ranking party officials," Chen said, adding that despite being a member of the party's Central Standing Committee, he did not know who will be on the list.

"I don't believe that the KMT, being a decades-old political party, does not have any talented members good enough to be nominated, but must rely on recruiting outsiders," Chen said.

The KMT's Central Standing Committee yesterday decided to hold a plenary session on Sept. 25, during which the names of the legislator-at-large nominees will be announced for confirmation and final approval.