Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday openly declared his support for Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), one of the contenders for the party's top post.
Handing a baseball bat to Wu as a symbol of transfer of power, Ma shrugged off questions about fairness in publicly favoring Wu over another candidate, KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱). Lauding Wu for his experience in party affairs and capability in pushing for party unity if elected as KMT chairman, Ma said he should be free to support any person as he did not hold any party position now.
"I've been waiting for a moment like this, to return his favors all these year ... Wu is an affectionate and righteous man, and a great leader that the KMT needs at a critical time like this," Ma said during a campaigning event for Wu at Yue Yang Restaurant.
Wu served as Ma's campaign director and helped him win in the Taipei mayoral elections in 1998 and 2002.
Holding the baseball bat together with Ma to symbolize party unity and their joint efforts, Wu stressed the importance of cooperation between Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
"The Wang-Ma cooperation is crucial for the KMT to win the 2008 presidential election, so let's press them on to achieve this goal. I don't care about your personal gains and losses, I only care about the future of Taiwan," Wu said.
Citing the consensus reached by the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) four presidential aspirants not to violate party regulations or leave the party, nor to run as an independent if they were not picked as the party's representative, Wu urged Ma, Wang and party members to unite to win the election.
"I would be an aggressive party chairman who would allow no defeat. The KMT has to cooperate and join forces so that we can win the elections," he said.
In response to Wu's remarks, Ma said he had already promised to follow Wu's suggestion that he invite Wang to be his running mate if he were chosen as the KMT's presidential candidate.
The KMT chairman by-election will be held on April 7. Ma resigned from the post after his indictment on corruption charges in relation to alleged misuses of his mayoral allowance.