Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 3 News List

KMT postpones its primary to appease Wang

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

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it will postpone selecting a presidential candidate until April in keeping with suggestions from Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and others within the party.

The KMT originally planned to begin its presidential primary on March 1 and announce its candidate on April 15. But yesterday the party announced that it will begin the primary on April 2 and announce its presidential candidate on May 25. The candidate is chosen by means of a public poll and a member vote. The public poll and member vote count for 70 percent and 30 percent respectively.

"Speaker Wang expressed his wish to postpone the process during a meeting this morning. [KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)] announced the postponement out of respect for Wang's opinion and in consideration of party unity," KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) told a press conference after a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting.

The schedule for the legislative primary remains unchanged. The primary will begin on March 16, and the winning candidates will be announced in three groups on May 2, May 23 and June 13.

The original schedule, which placed the presidential primary before the legislative primary, raised concerns that party members could be snubbed for legislative positions if they supported a losing presidential candidate.

Wu said that now that the issue had been settled, the KMT must unite ahead of the presidential election to compete effectively against the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) rich resources as the governing party.

Before changing his mind at the Central Standing Committee meeting, Ma had agreed with the KMT's Organization and Development Committee that the party would need at least a year to campaign for the presidency, and was therefore reluctant to alter the timeline.

"The KMT is an opposition party and we need some time to prepare for the election. The situation is different from when we were the ruling party," Ma said after meeting with Wang yesterday morning at Wang's residence.

Wang was still not pleased with the new schedule.

In a statement issued later yesterday, Wang said it was not the "schedule" that mattered, but whether the party could come up with a "democratic mechanism" to map out its policies.

During the meeting, Wang urged the party to develop its presidential primary plan on the basis of two principles: maintaining the pan-blue camp's edge in the legislature and fully disclosing information about primary candidates.

Ma had been accused of wanting to hold the presidential primary before the conclusion of the investigation into his use of the mayoral allowance fund.

The investigation was prompted by allegations that Ma embezzled money from the fund during his term as Taipei mayor.

"Ma is racing against the judicial investigation," DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.

If Ma wins the presidential primary and is found guilty of misusing his mayoral allowance, the party will claim the investigation results constitute "political repression" against Ma and the KMT, Ker said.

Wang, however, declined to comment on whether his insistance that the party disclose information about primary candidates had to do with the allegations Ma is facing.

Wang said winning public support should be the party's priority.

This story has been viewed 2635 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top