Sun, Mar 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Wang slights Ma with regard to election defeat

By Rich Chang and Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

While calling for the "truth" behind the assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu on March 14 last year, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday stated that it was a mistake for the KMT to cancel a rally that was slated to take place on the night of the shooting.

"The rally would have boosted the morale of pan-blue camp supporters. By calling off the rally, the heavy media coverage following the day of the shooting distracted the public and Lien Chan (連戰) and James Soong (宋楚瑜) lost the election," Wang said.

According to Wang, the pan-blue election rally on March 19 would have attracted some 2 million supporters. However, given the uncertainties following the shooting incident, a decision was made by KMT headquarters to cancel all rallies across country.

Wang made the remark following Soong's recent harsh criticism against Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who he said was responsible for Lien's defeat in last year's presidential election.

Soong told local media recently that it was Ma's advise to cancel all campaign rallies on the eve of the election after the shooting took place.

In a speech at the 319 shooting anniversary rally yesterday, Ma said that the majority of Taiwanese wished to maintain the status-quo with China and criticized Chen for threatening cross-strait peace.

"Because this country plans to deviate from the Republic of China Constitution and Chen's failure to keep his `four noes' pledge, China passed the Anti-Secession Law," Ma said.

Despite their apparent power struggle, Wang and Ma arrived at the march site hand-in-hand yesterday.

Wang attended the so-called "Truth, Democracy and Peace" candle-light ceremony at KMT headquarters early yesterday morning while Ma was absent. Although both were invited, Ma apparently had a meeting to attend to at the time of the ceremony.

The interaction between Wang and Ma yesterday was closely watched, given their status as competitors for the KMT chairmanship election to be held in July. Highlighting a series of disputes between the two over the party chairmanship race, Chinese-language media reported yesterday that Ma was preparing to call for Wang's resignation as convener of the party's central candidate nomination committee. Ma, however, denied the report.

A member of the committee himself, Ma will be the first to resign if there is a conflict of interest, the Taipei mayor said yesterday.

In related news, the Chinese-language Central Daily reported yesterday that Ma will hold a press conference on March 29 to formally announce his candidacy for the KMT's top post.

While Ma has been open about his intent to run for the KMT chairmanship since February, he has yet to make a formal declaration. Wang formally announced his candidacy on Thursday.

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