Sun, Jun 12, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT chairmanship race kicks into high gear

HIGH EXPECTATIONS Ma and Wang, rivals for the party chairmanship, canvassed KMT members seeking support with promises of economic prosperity and election victories

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

The race to become the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) next chairman heated up yesterday, with both Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) making moves to consolidate support.

Yesterday, Wang launched his first wave of campaign ads with front-page spreads in several local newspapers.

"The KMT needs Wang's courage, ability, intelligence and breadth of mind to win," the campaign ad said.

Speaking about his late campaign start, Wang told reporters while in Kaohsiung that although he began campaigning later than his competitor, he feels confident of victory. His comprehensive vision, ideals and plans for the party have helped him gain increasing support from party members, Wang said.

Getting a head-start, Ma began running campaigns ads at the end of last month, calling on supporters to sign petitions endorsing his campaign.

Ma spent the yesterday morning campaigning on the outlying island on Kinmen

Besides pledging to support the interests of Kinmen residents, Ma told supporters that independence was not an option for Taiwan.

"The party's chairman should attract young people and have a good public image. Even more important, [a KMT chairman] must be able to unite the pan-blue camp, stabilize cross-strait relations, oppose Taiwan's independence and help the KMT regain administrative power in 2008," Ma said.

While in Kinmen, Ma also said that he considered it important to expand the scope of the "small three links" in the interest of helping Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

The "small three links," which refer to shipping, postal and trade links between Taiwan's outlying islands - -- Kinmen and Matsu -- and China were established in 2001 in accordance with the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例). The act was passed in 2000 to boost the economies of the two islands.

What is convenient for Taiwanese businesspeople is not necessarily good for China; rather, it is good for us, Ma said, referring to the expansion of the links.

Ma also emphasized that if he is made KMT chairman, he will work to build up Kinmen's airports and harbors.

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