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.
But KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said Yeh’s defeat meant that the president’s endorsement could no longer help aspirants win.
“Someone over-estimated his own political charisma, thinking whoever he recommended would win, but the truth is just the opposite,” Chiu said.
Fu, meanwhile, said Yeh’s defeat showed that residents of the county were also against interference from party headquarters.
But Fu, whom the party disqualified from running in the primary, remained tight-lipped regarding whether he would take part in the year-end election as an independent.
“I will tell everyone after consulting the residents of Hualien,” Fu said.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday dismissed DPP criticism that Yeh’s loss marked Ma’s first no-confidence vote, saying that it was just a party primary and that the Hualien County commissioner election was only a local election.
“No, they have nothing to do with each other,” he said.
Regarding speculation that Ma had wanted Yeh to stand in the election, Wang said it was Yeh’s personal wish and that the Presidential Office respected the party’s democratic mechanism.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KO SHU-LING
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
‘NOT COLD ENOUGH’: Schools are disregarding Premier Su Tseng-chang’s instruction that students may wear out-of-uniform clothing to stay warm, an association said An investigative report revealed that 72.5 percent of the nation’s senior-high schools and 95.6 percent of junior-high schools punish students for wearing unapproved winter clothes in contravention of educational guidelines, lawmakers and student rights advocates said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said there is an endemic disregard for the Ministry of Education’s regulations and that private schools are more likely to contravene ministry rules. The report is a compilation of 2,856 student reports about dress code reinforcement at 425 high schools and vocational high schools, the association said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last
DECADES OF INFLUENCE: Over the past 20 years, China has made inroads with Aborigines, funding political campaigns and trips, a legislator said Lawmakers have called on the National Security Bureau to investigate claims of pervasive Chinese influence among Aboriginal communities. Legislators pointed to a surge in communist propaganda and Chinese-funded projects over the past few years, which they say are aimed at infiltrating and buying political influence among Aboriginal communities. “China has for decades carried out wide-ranging ‘united front’ tactics and propaganda campaigns targeting Aborigines,” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), a member of the Puyuma community in Taitung County. “Now, they are influencing elections for local councilors and village chiefs, offering money for candidates to mount their campaigns, and to