President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday established a campaign office for his bid for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, promising to run his campaign legally and economically.
Vice Legislative Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), who picked up the registration form for Ma at KMT headquarters yesterday morning, told reporters that Ma had instructed his staff to run the campaign in a legal and thrifty manner and requested neutrality in administrative and party affairs.
If Ma needed to take the presidential airplane to attend any campaign activities, Tseng said he would shoulder the fuel expenses.
All campaign activities would be conducted after office hours, Tseng said, adding that Ma would take a leave of absence if he needed to attend campaign activities during office hours.
Tseng, who doubles as KMT vice chairman, said he had obtained the consent of outgoing KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) to take a leave of absence from his party position during the campaign period, starting yesterday.
In the meantime, Tseng will act as secretary-general and spokesman for Ma’s campaign office. Tseng said the reason behind the decision was to “maintain neutrality in party affairs.”
Asked whether he would do the same for his legislative job, Tseng said: “The legislature represents the people and as we live in a society where partisan politics is responsible politics, the legislature can participate in the activities of political parties.”
On Ma’s campaign office, Tseng said they would use Ma’s old office on Xinyi Road and streamline personnel. All employees would be volunteers, he said.
To be eligible for registration, Ma must garner the signatures of 3 percent of party members, or 15,000 people, before next Wednesday. The election will be held on July 26.
Tseng dismissed reports that KMT lawmakers had been asked to collect 500 signatures each for Ma. He said he hoped each lawmaker could gather at least 500 endorsements, but he did not force them to do so.
Tseng said the NT$2 million (US$60,000) deposit came from Ma’s own pocket, and Ma would raise funds for all future expenses.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said he did not have any information regarding the solicitation of 500 signatures.
Wang also dismissed speculation that Ma meddled in the party’s personnel line-up. There were rumors that Ma would name Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) as a party vice chairman.
Wang did not attend yesterday’s weekly luncheon with Ma at the Presidential Office. Ma meets Wang Jin-pyng, Wu Poh-hsiung, Premier Liu Chao-shuan (劉兆玄) and Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) every Monday.
To celebrate Wu Poh-hsiung’s 70th birthday, Wang Yu-chi said Ma would attend the outgoing KMT chairman’s book launch tomorrow. Wu Poh-hsiung has said he would not compete with Ma in next month’s election.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said yesterday that by asking Tseng to serve as his campaign manager and to request KMT lawmakers to collect signatures for his campaign, Ma had blurred the lines between the executive and legislative branches of government and harmed the nation’s democratic system.
Cheng said Ma wanted to control the legislature by asking the KMT-dominated body to be involved in his election campaign. With Ma meddling in legislative affairs, KMT lawmakers would no longer be free to exercise their right to review and monitor the government’s performance, he said.
As deputy speaker, Cheng said, Tseng should act impartially, and not belittle himself by being Ma’s “errand boy.”
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