Thu, Jul 02, 2009 - Page 3 News List

KMT sees Yeh Ching-chuan as ‘good choice’ for Hualien commissioner

FIT FOR THE JOB? Reactions within the KMT to news that the Minister of Health could run in the race were mixed, with some saying he did not have grassroots support

By Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday that Minister of Health Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) would be a good choice to represent the party in the election for Hualien County commissioner later this year.

Wu lauded Yeh as a fine government official, but said that more negotiations were necessary before a nomination could be confirmed.

“Yeh would be a good choice, but we will need more time to talk about this in more detail,” Wu said before presiding over the KMT’s Central Standing Committee.

Wu declined to confirm whether the party would ignore the primary process and nominate Yeh directly and said the KMT would negotiate with other hopefuls to achieve consensus on a nomination.

KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yi (吳敦義) said Yeh would be the “most welcome” candidate for the election if he agreed to represent the KMT.

Five KMT members, including KMT Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁), Hualien County Council Speaker Yang Wen-chi (楊文值), Hualien City Mayor Tsai Chi-ta (蔡啟塔) and former director of Hualien County’s Agricultural Development Office Tu Li-hua (杜麗華), have registered with the party to participate in the primary.

The party, however, suspended the primary last month because of intense competition among the five.

Wu Den-yi said the party could skip the primary and make a nomination instead.

KMT legislators, meanwhile, had mixed reactions to the possibility of Yeh running in the Hualien election.

KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) said that while Yeh would be a perfect candidate for Hualien, his talent could be put to better use elsewhere.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said that Yeh would increase Hualien’s tourism and visibility if he became commissioner.

However, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) expressed concerns about Yeh’s chances of winning the election for the KMT.

“Although Hualien County is a very ‘blue’ [pro-KMT] county, a candidate who has not spent enough time garnering support from residents could still lose the election,” Lin said.

The lawmakers made the remarks after Yeh confirmed on Tuesday night that officials at KMT headquarters had approached him about the election later this year.

Yeh told reporters yesterday that Wu Den-yih was the one who had proposed that Yeh run in the election.

Yeh, who had mentioned on several occasions his wish to return to Hualien, where he taught at the Tzu Chi University, said he would only accept the nomination if Hualien County residents supported him and if harmony within the party were not affected by his nomination.

He said he would not compete in a party primary if one were held, adding he would not make a final decision until next month at the earliest.

Yeh’s announcement was immediately criticized by Fu, who has long been preparing for the election.

Fu said the health minister should remain in the central government.

“Minister Yeh is an expert on public health. However, there is a substantial difference between being a decision-making administrator in the central government and [a county commissioner], who needs to understand the county and its residents,” Fu told reporters.

Fu said he wondered if residents of Hualien would support Yeh.

Meanwhile, the KMT said it would launch a new Web site by the end of next month targeting foreigners in Taiwan.

The party said the new Web site would feature “foreigners’ views on Taiwan,” inviting foreigners living in Taiwan to share their views about government policies, social issues and other topics.

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