Sun, Aug 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma pledges to expedite KMT reform

`CHALLENGE' On the first anniversary of his chairmanship, Ma Ying-jeou promised to turn the KMT into a party of integrity, and to improve the economy and cross-strait ties

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou, center, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, second left, and KMT candidate for Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin, second right, shout slogans during a campaign event yesterday to promote the KMT's mayoral and city councilor candidates.

PHOTO: CNA

One year after taking over the chairmanship of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday acknowledged that reforming the party was a daunting challenge, while pledging to speed up the transformation of the KMT into a party of integrity that can bring "new hope" to the country.

"Taiwan is stuck with corruption scandals and political confrontations, while the world is moving forward. I am anxious about the situation," Ma said yesterday in a written statement titled "Expediting the Reform Process."

Acknowledging the complexity and difficulty in reforming the country's oldest political party, Ma compared the party to a "giant ship" that is carrying a lot of talent and heavy baggage at the same time.

"The biggest challenge for the KMT is to redevelop old structures and rebuild its engine, while keeping the ship running smoothly. More importantly, we need to confirm our destination and to sail toward a bright future," he said.

Ma said that as an opposition party that had lost much of the resources it enjoyed before the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidency in 2000, more effort would be required to reform the 100-year old party.

Ma also lauded former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) for initiating the reform effort.

"I realize the challenge chairman Lien faced when he took over the chairmanship in 2000. It's quite remarkable for him to have pushed for KMT reform during his five-year term," he said.

Ma said the DPP had failed to give the Taiwanese hope, and promised to transform the KMT into a party of integrity, improve the economy and enhance cross-strait relations.

"Taiwan needs a refreshing force that will bring integrity and justice to society. The KMT needs to shoulder the task and lead Taiwan toward a brighter future," he said.

Ma urged all KMT members to speed up the reform process.

Ma won the KMT chairmanship election in July last year, beating Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). Ma promised to help the KMT eliminate corruption, resolve its beleaguered financial situation, protect the rights of its employees and place a greater importance on youth.

Ma's first act in launching the reform effort after becoming chairman was to sell a building in Taipei, sparking protests from the pan-green camp, which said the property was one of the assets stolen from the public by the KMT during its rule.

The pan-green camp has said Ma has failed to address the party assets issue, and it launched a campaign demanding that Ma return party assets to the government.

Within the pan-blue camp, speculation has continued that Ma has problematic relations with other pan-blue heavyweights, including Wang, Lien and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), which make it difficult to unite the allies.

Asked yesterday to comment on his performance as KMT chairman during the past year, Ma said that others should be the judge, but added that he "works very hard on the job."

Facing more speculation about his relationship with Wang, Ma yesterday once again dismissed allegations that he threw a birthday party for Lien this week in order to ask Lien to talk to Wang for him.

"I invited chairman Lien for dinner simply to celebrate his birthday. There are no problems between me and Speaker Wang," he said yesterday while attending a campaign event for the KMT's candidates for Taipei City mayor and councilors.

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