Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Ma seeking party unity, not division with election bid

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he is hoping to take on more responsibility and help the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) flourish by seeking its chairmanship -- but he would rather not run if his candidacy would be a source of division.

"I am running for KMT chairman in order to help the party become more robust. But before that can happen, there must be unity," Ma said yesterday morning.

"I hope that during the election process, candidates will be able to express their beliefs, and allow party members to select the party's future leader," he said. "This process should allow the party to become more cohesive, more united, not more divided."

In response to media queries about the internal divisions that are anticipated should Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) decide to make a run for the chairmanship, Ma said that his candidacy was intended to unite the party.

Should his candidacy cause division, Ma said, he would back out of the race.

However, competition is a natural part of any electoral process, he said, not a "major problem" that constitutes a party division.

Ma made the comments after meeting with Bonnie Parkin, the president the Relief Society, a women's auxiliary group for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Since Ma announced his candidacy for the May election, it has been widely speculated that his party rival, Wang, will also declare his candidacy. Both men are KMT vice chairmen.

In the past few days, however, Wang has remained non-committal about his plans, saying only that he will support KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) should Lien decide to run again in May.

Lien has previously said that it is time for generational handover in the party's leadership.

He has also said that he would stand down when his present term expires in August.

"Reform is the hope of all KMT members. I know, however, that change is not an easy thing. I hope that whoever the candidate is in the election, he will hold to ideal of reforming the party, to help save the party together with its members," Ma said.

When asked if he had been in contact with Lien, Ma said that was not as Lien was vacationing in Europe.

But he said he would likely be at the airport to pick Lien up when he returns home.

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