Wed, Sep 02, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Yeh’s loss shows lack of confidence in Ma, DPP says

By Jenny W. Hsu, Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former health minister Yeh Ching-chuan’s (葉金川) loss in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Hualien County primary marks President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) first vote of no-confidence, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday, adding that the defeat was a reflection of growing animosity toward the government.

Yeh resigned from the health ministry on Aug. 3 to run in the primary amid mounting speculation that Ma wanted him to stand in the election. Yeh later came under fire because he quit amid the growing threat of a swine flu epidemic.

He lost the county commissioner primary to former Hualien County Agricultural Development Office director Tu Li-hua (杜麗華) on Monday.

Yeh’s loss was indicative of public angst over Ma’s incompetence in responding to Typhoon Morakot, said DPP acting spokesman Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), predicting that the KMT would suffer another setback in the upcoming Yunlin County legislative by-election.

The legislative seat was left vacant in July when KMT Legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) was convicted of vote-buying.

Chao said Hualien has always been viewed as a KMT stronghold, but it is apparent that the people in the eastern county are fed up with the government’s incompetence in implementing effective measures to prevent and respond to natural disasters.

The government has placed politics above public welfare and the public is fully aware of this, Chao said.

The DPP is expected to announce its nomination for the Hualien race no later than next week during the party’s Central Executive Committee, the spokesman said.

The party’s head of international affairs, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), and former Council of Agriculture minister Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) have been tapped as likely candidates.

In response, the KMT yesterday dismissed concern that a declining support rate for Ma was the factor behind Yeh’s defeat.

Ma maintained a neutral stance on the race and respected the party’s primary mechanism, abstaining from any campaigning activities, KMT Vice Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said.

“The president had nothing to do with Yeh’s decision to join the primary, and he did not participate in any campaigning events. How could the president affect Yeh’s bid?” he said.

Wu said Yeh made the ­decision to quit and join the primary on his own initiative because of his deep affection for Hualien. His late participation in the primary and recent public attention because of Typhoon Morakot and the A(H1N1) epidemic made it difficult for him to solicit enough support in the primary, Wu said.

Wu said the party would nominate Tu in accordance with the primary result, but KMT Legislator Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) and Hualien County Deputy Commissioner Chang Chih-ming (張志明) both refused to give up their bids.

Wu acknowledged that the election would be a tough battle for the KMT, but said that the party would spare no efforts to win.

Meanwhile, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of the KMT said Yeh lost because he did not begin his preparations early enough.

A number of KMT lawmakers agreed that Yeh, rather than the president, should be blamed for his defeat.

KMT legislators Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) and Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said Yeh had upset the public because he tendered his resignation to join the primary despite the threat of an A(H1N1) epidemic.

KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚), son of KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), said Yeh did not have enough time to prepare for the primary.

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