Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers back Ma as independent in 2008 poll

BACKUP If the KMT chairman were to be charged over his special allowance and suspended from the party, he could run as an independent candidate, supporters said

By Flora Wang, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A group of lawmakers have thrown their support behind Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for a presidential bid in 2008, saying that Ma should run as an independent if he is indicted for his handling of the special allowance fund, which would result in suspension from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

"Ma should register as an independent presidential candidate representing the pan-blue camp if he is indicted," KMT Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) said.

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said that Ma had to persist in his bid for the election.

"If Ma ever thinks of giving up the bid [if indicted], they will do everything possible to indict him," Lai said.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng(吳育昇) dismissed speculation that Ma would back down from running in the presidential election if he were to be indicted.

Lawmakers' support for Ma's election bid proved that they believed in his innocence in the midst of the investigation into his special mayoral allowance, KMT legislative caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said.

Ma said yesterday that he had done nothing wrong as far as the handling of his special allowance was concerned, and he expected the judiciary to remain impartial in the investigation of the case.

Ma also denied that he had said he would resign as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman but not withdraw from politics if he were indicted.

As to whether he may be indicted before Dec. 9, when the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections are held, Ma said he could not make any predictions.

KMT legislators have accused the government of interfering in the investigation by requiring Taiwan High Court Prosecutor-General Hsieh Wen-ting (謝文定) to decide whether to indict Ma before the election.

Ma did not comment on whether he would still run for the presidency in 2008 even if he lost his KMT membership, nor did he respond to questions about whether he would give up his KMT chairmanship as former Democratic Progressive Party legislator Ju Gau-jeng (朱高正) had requested.

Ju yesterday published an open letter in several Chinese-language newspapers urging Ma to quit the chairmanship to pressure President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) into stepping down.

Ju said in the letter that Ma was not qualified as a political leader because he failed to "make the right decisions at critical moments," referring to the KMT's support of the three failed presidential recall motions.

Ju said that Ma should apply high moral standards to himself and resign as KMT chairman over the special allowance case to demonstrate his willingness to admit his own mistakes.

"Only when you resolutely resign the chairmanship can there be a new driving force for urging Chen to step down and a new chapter in the development of Taiwan's democracy," Ju said in the letter.

Independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖), who held a press conference with Ju later yesterday, said that if Ma were to resign as chairman, he would be better able to take action than if he were to remain passive in dealing with the probe into his allowance fund.

Meanwhile, Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office Spokesman Chang Wen-cheng (張文政) yesterday denied that the government had interfered with Taiwan High Court Prosecutor-General Hsieh Wen-ting (謝文定) or the Black Gold Investigation Center during the probe into Ma's special allowance fund.

The allegation that the government had demanded Ma's indictment before the Dec. 9 elections was groundless, he added.

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