Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Ma denies setting sights on chairmanship of KMT

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other pan-blue camp members denied that Ma was planning to run for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship next year.

The denials came after a Chinese-language local paper reported yesterday on its front page that Ma, who is also a KMT vice chairman, has already clearly expressed his intention to run for the KMT party leadership when the seat comes up for grabs in March.

Quoting a "powerful member of the KMT," the story said that Ma already has his eye on a 2008 run for president and is planning to announce a final decision about running for party chairman after the legislative elections next month.

The story -- and reporters questions -- yesterday sparked denials from Ma.

"I haven't considered this issue yet; I've been too busy with the Taipei City government and in the year-end legislative elections," Ma said.

"This is a misunderstanding; the reporter [who wrote the article] didn't even interview me for this story," he said.

The news provoked mixed reactions in the pan-blue camp yesterday.

"The KMT party chair is elected by all party members. Any party member can run for chairmanship," KMT caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said.

"There are many people I can think of who might run for party chairmanship. Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) is not bad. Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) is not bad either," said People First Party (PFP) Legis-lator Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), referring to fellow PFP lawmakers.

A merger between the KMT and the PFP next February is purportedly in the works.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday was low-key.

"It's time for the legislative elections," was all Lien would say to reporters yesterday when questioned at the KMT's headquarters in Taipei.

Legislative Speaker and another potential KMT party chair contender Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) also declined to comment yesterday, telling reporters that everyone's focus should be on the legislative elections.

Wang was identified in the newspaper article as Lien's favorite to succeed him in the post.

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