The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday apologized for the party’s worse-than-expected showing in Saturday’s local elections, adding that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should follow suit.
At a press conference, KMT caucus whip Justin Chou (周守訓) offered “deep apologies” on behalf of the party caucus to the party’s supporters and swing voters, who he said had become detached from politics since the KMT regained power in May last year and chose not to cast their ballots in Saturday’s elections.
Chou also praised Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for her “mild and rational” personality, which he said had helped the DPP win the support of swing voters.
KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said party headquarters and Ma, who also serves as the party’s chairman, should also offer a public apology for the party’s poor showing.
At a post-election press conference held on Saturday night, Ma attributed the party’s less-than-ideal performance on the “overall environment” and said voters had made their choices based on individual candidates political achievements.
KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) also apologized to voters, adding that the electorate had been disappointed with the party’s performance.
“The KMT should be more modest. Is it that difficult to offer an apology?” he said.
In other developments, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the KMT urged the party to begin the nomination process for next year’s municipality elections as soon as possible.
Hau said while the party normally nominates its candidates in July or August, it would be a “good thing” if the party began the primaries for the municipality elections earlier.
Describing his party’s setback in Saturday’s elections as “a decisive warning,” Hau said he was well aware of his responsibilities as the incumbent mayor and the importance of next year’s elections.
The five municipalities to hold elections next December are Taipei City, Taipei County — which will be upgraded and renamed Sinbei City (新北市) — and a merged Taichung County and Taichung City, a merged Tainan County and Tainan City, and a merged Kaohsiung County and Kaohsiung City.
While Tsai has not rejected a proposal that she run for the capital’s top job for the DPP, Hau yesterday said that Tsai would be a “respectful rival” and that he hoped the DPP would nominate the best candidate possible, someone who could meet the expectations of Taipei’s residents.
Asked whether the problem-plagued Wenshan-Neihu mass rapid transit line and the Maokong Gondola would be burdens for him in his re-election bid, Hau said he believed the KMT would select the most suitable candidate through its nomination mechanism.
In response to Hau’s call, KMT Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said the party would begin preparations for the municipality elections as soon as possible, “but it will only nominate those who can win.”
KMT Spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said Chan would present a report on Saturday’s elections during today’s Zhongshan meeting and tomorrow’s Central Standing Committee and propose an action plan. The party would also review and adjust its nomination system for the seven legislative by-elections that are to be held next year, Lee said.
Ma yesterday instructed both the party and the government to do some thorough self-examination following Saturday’s setback.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma asked party members to adopt a humble attitude and take the matter seriously. As poor communication has been blamed by many for the KMT’s performance on Saturday, Wang said Ma also asked the Executive Yuan to listen to the voice of the people and better explain government policies that worry the public, such as the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement with Beijing.
Meanwhile, the KMT’s disciplinary committee will meet today to discuss how to deal with Hualien County Commissioner Hsieh Shen-san (謝深山) and Chen Chen-hui (陳振輝), the party’s candidate for Huwei Township, Yunlin County.
Hsieh did not endorse the KMT candidate for the Hualien County commissioner election, but instead backed Zhang Zhi-ming (張志明), who left the KMT to run as an independent.
Chen, inebriated and armed with a handgun, wounded the sister of his DPP opponent Lin Wen-pin (林文彬) after losing the election.
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