The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced it would hold its 17th convention on June 24, while declining to confirm whether it would relax party regulations during the meeting to allow former chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to retain his potential nomination as presidential candidate.
The KMT convention has traditionally taken place in August. It is believed that the decision to hold the meeting two months earlier is in line with plans to amend party regulations to allow Ma to remain a presidential candidate in case of a guilty verdict in his corruption trial.
Although he denied such a plan existed, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said any relaxation of party regulations would not aim at helping Ma alone.
"Any amendment of party regulations would be a decision made by all the party delegates. Even if we relaxed the regulations, it would not be for Ma, but for the KMT," Wu said yesterday at the party headquarters.
The KMT removed its "black-gold exclusion clause" from party regulations after Ma was indicted on corruption charges, allowing him to take part in the KMT's presidential primary.
KMT regulations stipulate that members convicted at a first trial would be suspended from the party.
The party is seeking to further relax the regulations so that only members who lose all appeals would be suspended.
Wu argued that the regulations should only exclude those who have been involved in "black gold" and not chase away innocent individuals.
"Who is `black' should be judged by society. The regulations should protect members' rights rather than create a trap for us to fall into," he said.
KMT Spokesman Su Jun-ping (蘇俊賓) said it was common practice for the party to amend regulations during party conventions and that party delegates would be able make proposals for amendments starting next Tuesday.
The convention will be held at the Taoyuan County Stadium.
Meanwhile, Wu yesterday condemned the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposed amendment to the President and Vice President Election and Recall Laws (總統副總統選舉罷免法), which was cleared by the legislature's Procedure Committee on Tuesday.
Four PFP lawmakers at the Procedure Committee were absent from the meeting on Tuesday, opening the door for the clearing of the amendment, which stipulates that anyone found guilty of corruption in a first trial should be barred from filing a presidential or vice presidential bid.
Despite this, Wu said that the party was still allied with the People First Party (PFP) and would continue seeking KMT-PFP cooperation.
"The KMT and the PFP share the same direction and we believed the two parties should continue to cooperate," Wu said, adding that he would liaise with PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) on the issue of the amendment.
The KMT and the PFP formed an alliance in January, with the principal aim of fielding joint candidates for the year-end legislative election and next year's presidential election.
"The talks on coordinating [legislative nominations] didn't go well and some party members had complaints," PFP Legislator Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) said at a separate setting yesterday.
Their absence from the Procedure Committee on Tuesday, Hwang said, was intended to put some pressure on the KMT.
"Everyone [in the party] is angry with the KMT," because of the matter of legislative nomination, PFP Legislator Ke Shu-min (柯淑敏) said.