Sat, Feb 19, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Ma apologizes to Wang for supporters' `hasty words'

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an attempt to mend fences, Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he had called his political rival, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), on Thursday to apologize for "hasty words" from his staff that may have offended Wang.

Since Ma, a party vice chairman, announced his intent to run for the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) chairmanship when the post comes up for grabs in May, all eyes have been on his interaction with Wang, who has also been widely touted as a potential chairman candidate.

Although Wang has yet to declare his candidacy in the May race, several party members have already begun to take sides. With various legislators proclaiming support for either Wang or Ma, media has speculated that divisions within the party will be inevitable if both heavyweights end up running for the party's top seat.

While answering questions from reporters yesterday, Ma said he had called Wang the previous day, a claim that Wang confirmed.

"I called Wang yesterday to apologize for some of my staff, who may have spoken too hastily or harshly [in support of Ma], in case he had been offended," Ma said.

"When we talked, Wang was very polite. He told me that I was a precious resource for the KMT. I replied to him that, as legislative speaker, he is an important party and political resource," Ma said.

In light of the potential rifts that the Wang-Ma race might create, KMT Secretary-General Lin Feng-cheng (林豐正) emphasized that party officials will remain neutral in the matter.

"It would be unsuitable for party officials to participate in campaign activities [for candidates' chairmanship bids]. All professional party workers should be neutral in the chairmanship race, including myself," Lin said at the party's central headquarters yesterday.

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