Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Yunlin candidate steps down

BOWING OUT Chang Li-shan said she did not want to see any factional infighting or her family being subjected to smear campaigns when explaining her decision

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Chia-yu, right, announces, that she will not stand in December’s local election in Yunlin County.

PHOTO: CNA

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate for the Yunlin County commissioner election Chang Li-shan (張麗善) tearfully withdrew from December’s local elections yesterday, delivering another blow to the KMT after its resounding defeat in the Yunlin legislative by-election on Saturday.

Chang said her heart ached when she saw her brother, former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味), break with his long-time friend, Chang Hui-yuan (張輝元), who ran in Saturday’s by-election as an independent.

“One thing we learned from the by-election is that politics is temporary but friendship is forever,” she said. “I don’t want to see my brother suffer another bout of ruthless attacks in the run-up to the year-end elections because of my candidacy.”

Chang Hui-yuan said after Saturday’s by-election that he was considering contesting the election.

Chang Hui-yuan participated in Saturday’s three-way race as an independent, while the KMT candidate Chang Ken-hui (張艮輝) had the backing of Chang Jung-wei.

The split helped Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) to a landslide victory.

The by-election was held to fill the seat left vacant by Chang Hui-yuan’s son, Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), who lost it earlier this year after the High Court found him guilty of taking part in a vote-buying scheme organized by his father.

Chang Hui-yuan — who was found guilty of vote buying — left the KMT to run as an independent after the party’s “black-gold exclusion clause” prevented him from standing.

Chang Sho-wen filed a defamation lawsuit against Chang Ken-hui at the Yunlin Prosecutors’ Office yesterday, accusing him of making groundless vote-buying allegations.

Chang Li-shan said that her brother felt he was responsible for the KMT’s defeat. After talking with him, she said she decided to drop out of the race.

“I hope the election will be objective and rational and I urge the public to see it with a calm and fair attitude,” she said. “I don’t want to hear anything about factional infighting or see any smear campaigns against my family.”

Chang Li-shan’s decision caught the KMT off guard.

KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said Chang Li-shan did not inform the party before announcing her decision.

He later said that the party was trying to talk her out of the idea. As registrations are set to close on Oct. 9, Lee said things should be clear on Oct. 7 when the party will hold its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.

“The worst case scenario is to find somebody else,” he said.

Hsu Su-po (??, the director of the KMT’s Yunlin branch, said he hoped Chang Li-shan would change her mind because her decision would not benefit the party with little more than two months left in the lead-up to the elections on Dec. 5. Nevertheless, Hsu said Chang Li-shan seemed bent on withdrawing after he visited her campaign office yesterday afternoon.

KMT spokeswoman Chen Shu-jung (陳淑蓉) said the party is in the process of soliciting opinions from local members to seek another “appropriate candidate.”

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he was very surprised to learn of the decision, while KMT caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) urged the party to persuade Chang to stand in the election.

Lu said the party must now bear in mind its defeat in the Yunlin legislative by-election when preparing for the year-end city and county chief elections. KMT Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) urged Chang Li-shan to rethink her decision, adding that withdrawing from the election was a sign of weakness.

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