Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT's Ko recants anti-Ma comments

INEBRIATED?KMT Legislator Ko Chun-hsiung, the leader of the biggest faction in the KMT caucus, said he had not been serious when he proposed 'collective leadership'

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The leader of a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) subgroup in the legislature yesterday downplayed previous remarks calling for "collective leadership" within the party following Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) political crisis in connection with the handling of a mayoral expense fund.

The 31-member subgroup is the biggest faction of the KMT caucus and holds 90 legislative seats. It is generally considered a faction close to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and former party chairman Lien Chen (連戰).

"Just disregard what I said. I was under the influence of alcohol at the time. It was just a joke. I support Ma," KMT Legislator Ko Chun-hsiung (柯俊雄) told a press conference.

Ko made the remarks in response to a China Times report yesterday which said Ko's office had issued a document to the subgroup's members on Wednesday, urging them to debate the idea of "collective leadership" within the party.

The document said that adopting collective leadership would help reduce the risk that the party was led by only one star, referring to Ma.

Ko said he brought up the idea of "collective leadership" during a dinner gathering with Lien on Monday night, and his legislative aide "took his words too seriously."

He said the aide sent out the document without his knowledge.

"I offered an apology for this and will punish my assistant for acting rashly," Ko said.

After the dinner on Monday night, Chang Chang-tsai (張昌財), a member of the group, said the group had suggested Lien run in the 2008 presidential election with Wang as his vice president.

In related news, KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday led his party's city council candidates in a show of support for Ma.

The judicial system would prove Ma's innocence, they said.

Chanting "Believe the mayor! Support the chairman!" the candidates endorsed Ma's integrity, while pledging to win the upcoming elections for the KMT.

"Chairman Ma's integrity is the KMT's biggest asset. We expect him to cooperate with the judicial investigation and believe that the judicial system will prove his innocence," Hau said at his campaign headquarters.

Taipei City Council Speaker Wu Bi-chu (吳碧珠) led party councilors to offer an apology to Taipei residents for failing to monitor the situation in the city government.

"I've worked with Mayor Ma for eight years and I believe he has made a great effort on behalf of the city, and his integrity is beyond doubt," she said.

Chen Chin-chiang (陳錦祥), secretary-general of the KMT caucus in the city council, said Ma had worked hard to retain his integrity over the past eight years.

"If he is found to have been involved in the scandal, then I am afraid that many officials will have to be investigated as well," he said.

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) also endorsed Ma and urged the KMT not to complicate the issue.

"It's best for the KMT to help the Taipei City Government and Ma to get through the crisis, instead of opposing him," he said yesterday in Taipei.

Agreeing that Ma should not resign as aresult of the scandal, Soong continued to condemn the DPP for trying to shift the focus away from the president's "state affairs fund."

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