Wed, Jan 13, 2010 - Page 3 News List

No instructions to gag legislators: Hsu

HARD TO DIGEST KMT Legislator Hsu Yao-chang said colleagues might suffer from ‘gastric ulcers’ if they discussed politics during a meal attended by the president

By Flora Wang And Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) yesterday denied receiving instructions from senior party officials to silence fellow KMT legislators who wanted to question President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about party affairs during a gathering on Monday night following the party’s defeat in three legislative by-elections on Saturday.

“I would like to apologize to my fellow KMT lawmakers who had planned [to use the dinner] to voice their opinions,” Hsu told reporters at the legislature.

“But I did not receive any instructions from high-ranking party officials [to keep people quiet] ... frankly speaking, I am not senior enough [to receive such instructions],” Hsu said.

Hsu sparked controversy within the party after he persuaded his colleagues to concentrate on the food at the beginning of the gathering, saying that they might suffer from “gastric ulcers” if they discussed politics during the meal.

The dinner turned out to be a purely social event despite tmore than 20 KMT lawmakers saying they would take the opportunity to offer suggestions to the president.

KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) told reporters that everyone was stunned when Hsu urged them not to talk politics, adding that she said she had no choice but to cancel her plan to speak out.

KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) said he wondered whether Hsu was speaking his own mind or the president’s.

In another development, KMT Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) visited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) at the legislature yesterday, where he told Wang that party officials would gear up to campaign for the party’s candidates in next month’s legislative by-elections.

“[The KMT] will perform better in the next four by-elections,” King said. “It is my philosophy in life to look ahead.”

After the KMT’s defeats on Saturday, King accepted the results and promised to continue pushing party reform.

Meanwhile, KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) told reporters yesterday that the party is arranging three tea parties for Ma, who doubles as party chairman, to drum up support for this year’s elections.

The first one will focus on next month’s legislative by-elections, Lee said, the second on the year-end elections in five special municipalities and the third will be held at the end of the year for counties and cities with no elections, he said.

Lee said Ma yesterday instructed the party to report on the defeats in Saturday’s elections during the Central Standing Committee today after he had heard reports from party bosses in the three election districts.

Lee said many factors contributed to the losses but they were mainly the result of grassroots supporters failing to vote. They hoped to find out why it happened and how to fix the problem, he said.

Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) of the KMT expressed optimism about the year-end elections in the five special municipalities, saying the KMT would turn its fate around following its recent electoral defeats.

Hau said voters sent a clear message to the KMT on Saturday and the message was that they were dissatisfied with the government’s performance, he said.

“The party has heard their voices,” he said. “Sometimes crises can pose an opportunity to change for the better.”

As the economy is picking up, Hau said as long as the administration took a proactive approach to government policies, he believed the year-end elections were the time to make a comeback.

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