Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma arrives to face hard questions over Yeh's withdrawal

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) returned from his overseas trip yesterday, but the controversy over the KMT's primary stole the limelight.

Ma concluded a six-day visit to Singapore and Australia at the invitation of the two countries' governments. In his capacity as Taipei mayor, Ma had private meetings with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) during the trip.

Commenting on KMT member and Taipei mayoral hopeful Yeh Chin-chuan's (葉金川) sudden withdrawal from the party's primary, Ma said he understood Yeh's feelings, but defended the party's decision to give Yeh a written reprimand for contravening the party's regulations.

"The KMT's primaries are run according to the regulations and we have strict standards that our candidates must abide by. The party followed the regulations," Ma said during a press conference at CKS International Airport yesterday.

Yeh, a former Taipei deputy mayor who was seen as Ma's chosen successor, withdrew from the primary on Tuesday after a campaign ad targeting his key rival Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) sparked both criticism and a written reprimand from the party.

According to reports in the China Times and the United Daily News, amongst other Chinese-language media, Ma was unhappy about the criticism leveled against Yeh over the ad and speculation about his taking advantage of the city government's resources, and demanded that the party dissuade Yeh from vying for the mayoral nomination.

While Ma denied the reports and said there would be opportunities for him to cooperate with his former close aid, Yeh yesterday turned a cold shoulder to the chairman.

"I don't have the status [to see him], and there isn't much to talk about ... I think [Ma] better not contact me. It's better for him to make comments after the election," Yeh said yesterday.

Yeh denied adopting a negative campaign tactic with the ad, saying that it targeted problems of Hau's that were already in the public domain, and shared his resentment over the "super high-standards" the party had held him too.

"The ad got me a written reprimand, but [nothing happened to] another candidate who attacked me. The KMT should look into that matter instead," he said.

Earlier this month, "evidence" of Yeh committing bribery was mailed to media outlets. The material had been placed in an envelope that had the legislature's stamp on it. Yeh condemned the party for failing to get to the bottom of the matter, but said he would support the party's mayoral candidate.

Ma later declined to make any comments about Yeh's response.

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