Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 3 News List

KMT: should we dump our leaders?

INTROSPECTION Officials with the pan-blue alliance are beginning to think beyond the election dispute and worry about the future of their parties

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng invites Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators to discuss the future direction of the KMT after its electoral defeat on March 20. The meeting was hosted by Wang as KMT Vice Chairman at his official residence in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

What course should the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) take following its second defeat in its attempt to claim the keys to the Presidential Office?

Such was the question lingering in the minds of many pan-blue politicians, many of whom have openly and vocally voiced their anxiety and concerns about the party's political ideology and leadership in the past few days.

"The declining approval ratings in the polls suggest that the weekly demonstrations are no longer approved of by our supporters," KMT Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄) said. "The worst scenario would be that it will have a grave impact on the electoral outlook of the party during the year-end legislative election."

Hsu was referring to the weekly demonstrations spearheaded by the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance since the presidential election on March 20.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) defeated KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) in the election by a margin of less than 30,000 votes.

Lien refused to concede defeat, and claiming voting irregularities -- although he has not been able to produce proof -- filed a lawsuit demanding a recount. Lien also raised questions about the assassination attempt on Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), in which bullets grazed Chen's stomach and hit Lu's knee.

Lien claimed that it was an attempt to win sympathy votes, as well as charging that the implementation of a "national security mechanism" following the shooting prevented a large number of military personnel from voting.

Saturday's demonstration in front of the Presidential Office was the latest in a series of protests staged by the KMT-PFP alliance in its effort to challenge the election result.

The demonstration turned ugly and violent, spiraling out of control after some protesters refused to leave the site when the event's permit expired. Clashes and scuffles broke out between riot police and the angry demonstrators in which 127 people were injured, including 86 police officers, 27 protesters and 14 reporters, according to a report by the Taipei City Police Bureau's Chungcheng First Precinct Chief We Su-lu (吳思陸).

A number of KMT legislators have questioned the wisdom of holding further street demonstrations to increase the pressure on Chen.

"The [violent clashes] have done a lot of damage to the KMT," Hsu said. "The pain I feel is more than I can put into words. I truly hope that the KMT, having existed for more than a century, will not be vaporized in such a short time."

Saying that the KMT can not afford to lose another presidential election, Hsu, a committee member known for his "pro-localization" stance, said that the party should now start considering issues such as a possible merger with the PFP, nominations for the year-end legislative elections and introspection as to why the party lost its presidential bid on March 20.

Voices urging the party to engage post-election reflection have surfaced since Wednesday's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.

Hung Yu-chin (洪玉欽), a former legislator who was elected to the party's Central Standing Committee last August, warned that the future is bleak for the party unless it follows through with internal reform and renames itself the Taiwan Nationalist Party.

Hung's remarks was echoed by KMT Legislator Chen Ken-teh (陳根德), who stressed that only by adjusting the party's political stance on localization could the KMT gain an opportunity to develop further.

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